The rebel. A common archetype of teenagers for decades. A black mark across
the face of adolescence. Why does the world shame the rebellious?
I have felt it, you have felt it. The hearts and minds of every teenager has felt the
pressure of both conformity and obedience. Who are they to restrict our identity?
Even listening to the way most adults speak of or to teenagers is degrading. One can
hear the disapproval in their voice. The invisible eye roll associated with “my teenage
daughter” or “teenage son” and what they’re up to. It seems that our rebellion has been
This rebellion is not merely the breaking of rules. This rebellion is the burning
passion for us teenagers to create ourselves, in whatever radical measure that may
demand. This rebellion is the rejection of the boxes we feel have been placed upon us
for years. This rebellion is the resistance of authority as we learn how to step into our
own autonomy. This rebellion breeds artists, breeds scholars, breeds the geniuses and
leaders of each generation.
My aunt, Cyd Crouse, recently told me a story of herself in high school. She
spoke of her actions in all of their audacity and eccentrism stemming simply from the
fact that “[her] soul was screaming so loud [she] just couldn’t hear anything else.” I find
that this resonates with various high school students today. For many of us, the
pressure to be this or do that weighs heavily on our shoulders, catalyzing radicalism and
individuality. It seems that everyone has an idea of who we “should” be, but who do we
want to be?
So when we teenagers fully embody what it means to be a rebel, it is not the
image of piercings and tattoos in which most parents today might assume. To be a rebel
is to be an individualist, a nonconformist, a leader courageous enough to stare in the
eyes of fear and authority with their chin held high. To be a rebel is to ask questions. To
push limits. To forge ahead into a new depth of life. To accept what it means to feel.
Allowing ourselves to feel on such a level that oftentimes, our only known
response is the defiance of all that we feel might hold us back, tie us down. As we age
and near the peak of adolescence, we learn what it means to alchemize our emotion
and passion into the creation of an identity in this world. And for a time, this must look
like rebellion. It is the bottling up of so much passion that we must learn to fuel our
To me, the world is in desperate need of more rebellion- the kind I speak of here.
It is a beautiful gift to have such strength and intensity that one is willing to rebel against
fear, against mundanity, against submission. When we look up and see what today’s
normal is, why would anyone want to conform to such fear, darkness, and division? Art
is rebellion. Love is rebellion. Creativity is rebellion. Unity is rebellion.