JOANNE O'RIORDAN: Give us space to believe in ourselves first

TEENAGERS these days are accused of being everything.

We are cheeky, bratty, spoilt, alcoholics, the future of the country, anything possible, we are it.

Some people think we are spoilt rotten because our parents do everything for us.

And others just think we are these rude brats who don’t acknowledge anyone but ourselves .

It’s lovely to see programmes on TV that inspire us.

For example, the Donal Walsh documentary that encouraged young people to live life to the full (basically the YOLO ethos — you only live once). It’s great to get that message, and make us realise that our lives could be so much more difficult.

Here’s a boy who was battling against cancer and knowing he was going to die, yet he still never gave up.

His positive message spread everywhere and in my year, we all agreed that was probably one of the best documentaries on TV over the Christmas period.

Then you hear parents saying to their kids ‘why can’t you be like that?’. That is probably the worst thing ever to say to us after we get home from a horrific day in school. See, we all want to be fantastically inspiring like Donal Walsh, and we are, but in different ways.

It was beautiful for that night alone to see all the young people on Twitter joining together to spread the message of ‘live life’. Although one man made us do it, wasn’t it inspiring to see people spreading the message?

As I go to schools giving talks about my life, my main goal during that talk is to let everyone in the room know that as teenagers, we can all be as inspiring as we want. Even the little things, like helping our local GAA club to a county final is inspiring, just as much as someone on TV telling everyone to live life to the full.

I’m very proud of my generation. We are in a horrendous situation with the country, but that’s okay. Knowing what great young friends I have, and who are all around me, I know our country is safe.

We have capable leaders of the future, just bursting to get their chance. Instead of stressing us out, comparing us to one another, let us be individuals. Let us do our own thing. Remember, if you’re reading this, your child might be the next Obama, or the next Lionel Messi, or whoever they want to be. Give them the space and freedom to be that. Don’t be those parents who constantly pressure their kids into living their dreams — let us live our own!


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