The Importance of an Unhappy Adolescence

Being unhappy is never wholly to be recommended,
but if there is any period of life in which if the mood may be justified and in certain
ways important, then it is roughly between the ages of 13 and 20. It is hard to imagine
going on to have a successful or even somewhat contented next six decades if one has not
been the beneficiary of a good deal of agonising introspection and intense dislocation in this
span. At the root of adolescent sorrow and rage is the recognition that life is hugely
harder, more absurd and less fulfilling than one could ever hitherto have suspected – or
had been led to suppose by kindly representatives of the adult world. The sentimental protection
of childhood falls away – and a range of searingly malevolent but profoundly important
realisations strike. For a start, one recognises that no one understands. That isn’t quite
true, but of course, the more complicated any human being is, the less likely they are
to be easily and immediately understood. Therefore, as a child develops into an adult, the chances
of those around them exactly sympathising with and swiftly grasping their inner condition
necessarily decreases sharply. The first response of the teenager is to think themselves uniquely
cursed. But the better eventual insight is that true connection with another person is
possible yet astonishingly rare. This leads one to a number of important moves. Firstly,
to a heightened and more appropriate gratitude towards anyone who does understand. Secondly,
to greater efforts to make oneself understood. The sullen grunts of early adolescence can
give way to the enormous eloquence of the poetry, diaries and songs of later teenagehood.
The most beautiful pieces of communication humanity has ever produced have largely been
the work of people who couldn’t find anyone in the vicinity they could talk to. And lastly,
the sense that one is different from other people, though it may be searingly problematic
at the time, represents a critical moment when a new generation starts to probe at and
selectively improve upon the existing order. To be 16 and find everything perfect as it
is would be a terrifyingly sterile position to adopt. A refusal to accept the folly, error and evil
of the world is a precondition of later achievement. There really seems no alternative but to be
miserable in mid-adolescence if one is to stand any chance of making a go of the rest
of one’s life. Another key realisation of adolescence is that one hates one’s parents.
Yet it is truly an enormous tribute to the love and care of parents if their teenage
children turn around and tell them at the top of their voice that they loathe them.
It isn’t a sign that something has gone wrong, it’s evidence that the child knows
they are loved. The really worrying teenagers aren’t those who misbehave around their
parents and take out their random misery upon them, it’s those who are so worried about
not being loved, they can’t afford to put a foot wrong. To develop proper trust in other
human beings, it can be deeply important to be able to test a few examples, to tell them
the very worst things one can think of, and then watch them stick around and forgive one.
You have to have few gos at breaking love to believe it can be solid. And, of course,
one’s parents really are rather annoying in many ways. But that too is an important
realisation. We would never leave home and become parents ourselves if we weren’t at
some level compensating for the problems, mistakes and vices we had first identified
in our own parents at fourteen and a half. Another source of teenage sorrow is how many
big questions suddenly fill one’s mind, not least: what is the point of it all? This
questioning too is vital. The sort of questions that adolescents raise tend to get a bad name,
but that is more to do with how they answer them than with the questions themselves. What
is the meaning of life? Why is there suffering? Why does capitalism not reward people more
fairly? Adolescents are natural philosophers. The true end-point of adolescence is not,
as it’s sometimes suggested, that one stops asking huge questions and gets on with the
day to day. It’s that one acquires the resources and intelligence to build an entire life around
the sort of big questions that first obsessed one at seventeen. Lastly, and most poignantly,
teenagers tend to hate themselves. They hate the way they look, how they speak, the way
they come across. It feels like the opposite of being loved, but in fact, these isolated,
self-hating moments are the start of love. These feelings are what will, one day, be
at the bedrock of the ecstasy we’ll feel in the presence of that rare partner who can
accept and desire us back. Tenderness will mean nothing to us unless we first spent many
nights alone crying ourselves to sleep. Nature appears to have so arranged things that we
really can’t get to certain insights without suffering. The real distinction is between
suffering with a purpose and suffering in vain. For all the horrors of adolescence,
one of its glories is that the suffering it inflicts is largely securely rooted in some
of the most crucial developments and realisations of adulthood. These fascinatingly miserable
few years should be celebrated for offering us suffering at its best. Thank you for watching, liking and subscribing. If you want more, why not visit us in person and attend a class? Or take a look at our shop at the link on your screen now?

100 thoughts on “The Importance of an Unhappy Adolescence”

  1. What wisdom have you learned in later life that you wish you could go back and tell your younger self? If you want to watch our videos and communicate with like-minded people you can now download our app:

  2. Them: really your suicidal but your so quiet and shy

  3. Sorry in advance I didn't watch the video. But the title made me have to comment, wtf? NO, being unhappy is not good. Period. Children and adults alike should be happy.

  4. Thank you for sharing such insight. I can definitely see how some of my experiences can be reframed after watching this.
    I am currently trying to break down some of the mental health stigma by turning my pain into poetry. I have lived with anxiety and depression for over 16years (I'm 25 now) and wanted to let people know that they aren't alone and that they aren't crazy! I have videos on here if you would be interested in checking them out but also a whole Instagram Page dedicated to my mission too RS_POETICPERCEPTION .. Even if you don't check either out, I wish you all the best on your healing journey. You are worthy, you are valuable and I wholeheartedly send you love❤

  5. As every day goes on I find myself becoming more and more complex; I stumbled across this video as a 22 year old that uses YouTube to watch COD videos, as well as videos around other games such as Pokemon and Zelda. I am a nostalgic person, nostalgia gives me a sense of worth. I feel I could’ve done more in my teenage years, I put so much time into YouTube and have very little to show for it, while a lot of my friends and peers have thrived on this network. I act like I’m bigger than I actually am. I try to prove my worth to others and it digs me into a deeper hole. I find myself wondering if ALL of this is pointless. I’m a Christian. I struggle with believing in a higher power. I’m in college, I took a year off, and still have more schooling when I should be in the real world working. I’ve worked for my family business and haven’t really worked that hard, but know that one day I will work hard, and I will be a small business owner. That’s what helps me get through these troubling times. But what worries me is the idea of holding on for happiness. The “I’ll be happy one day” philosophy, to me, is destructive. Happiness should be an emotion that is felt without a timetable, and that is something I haven’t experienced. What eats at me even more is i’m typing this to a bunch of strangers on the internet instead of expressing these feelings to those who truly love and care about me. Why is comfort found in someone giving comfort over the internet? Is the internet turning us into antisocial beings? Is the gratitude and gratification given by a stranger truly more important than the ones in my/your immediate lives? This video really puts things into perspectives, and helped show me i’m not the only one struggling in my early adulthood.

  6. Umm, I'm a teen and I don't dislike my parents or feel lonely often. I do ask a,lot of questions, but I'm not a lot like the teens this video describes. Is this absurd?

  7. I never tell my problem to my family or friends because they will not take it seriously and they just tell me to get over it.
    I have lot of friends but depression always attacking me inside I just try to hide it my pain from people around me.

  8. Wonderful. Did highlight something I still stuggle with to this day though. And thats the realising that having those 'OOT' moments is OKAY. That it really is a way to build trust in love. I didnt get this growing up. I didnt feel loved. And in relationships I struggle, and if there is any intense emotional moments, I would percieve it as its not meant to be then, and this is all toxic and etc. Ive been single a while now and plan to be until I can see relationships in a more healthier and realistic light.

  9. I’m 14 and have been in a sadness faze since 13, I have no idea who I am, I’m insecure, my friendships aren’t great, and I’m even awkward around my family… it really sucks

  10. What if you're unhappy in your early twenties? I feel like this happens a lot more these days than we realize. Or I'm just justifying my sad existence.

  11. The no one understands face had me dying hahahahahaha. So real! I love the school of life, does more for me than I could do for myself!

  12. As a 19 y/o the biggest thing I still struggle with is letting my impatient desires lead to impulsive decision making

  13. I never went against my parents. The whole time I kept this act up, only for them, so they wouldn't see the real me… they only love me when I'm what they want. When I bring my real lself out, it gets rejected, but I'm too afraid to get abandoned, so I keep acting. Every one of my friends already have a lot of their own problems, so I barely talk to them. Counselors I've had make me feel like their paycheck, not a person, but gaining my trust isn't that hard. I don't know what I want from life career wise, so my personality changes. I need a friend who could understand that, and also knows I am actually happy on the inside for many things(I'm being honest). I want a friend to be someone who is upfront and happy too, genuinely happy. Everything I just said are the only things I haven't figured out yet, but I'm working on it. Where can I find a friend like that if it exists?

  14. Ever since the age of fifteen I've always wanted everyone around me to suffer more. Not because I hated everyone around me because of how stupid they were. But so that they could learn. I always knew (not always, but since 14) that suffering had meaning behind it. Because I had reasoned that everything happens for a reason. If a thing had no reason to be, then it wouldn't exist. I assumed suffering was the same way. It wasn't until I had gone through a series of hurts and harms and betrayals to realize that the unltimate purpose of suffering is to become better. It's to learn and grow in wisdom. To be wise is to be happy. And to suffer is to be wise.

  15. Is it weird that im 17 and im perfectly happy and grateful for all i have, i stopped smoking weed and cigs on my own 2 years ago-cold turkey(started in the 7th grade), i told my parents 1 year later and they were very proud of me…..anyways my life is imperfectly perfect/perfectly imperfect

  16. Im 19 about to go to college and pretty miserable because im battling impotence. I dont like the way my family lives and how they react when I wanna change certain things in my personal life.

  17. Oh my god, I literally relate to everything he just said and I feel so much better now that I know it’s all normal! Ahhh 😅
    I really needed this video :’)

  18. The only point that I agree with here is "it's concerning when the adolescent is so scared to be unloved that they can't afford saying "I hate you" (paraphrased). The rest just sounds extremely dismissive of emotions. An excuse for parents to ignore their kid and say "eh,". Bad emotions can grow bad people. Struggling can lead to success but it can also lead to bad choices.

  19. At first sight, I was happy because I recognised myself, until I understood something : I only recognise myself. What you describe is probably what people watching this channel think, but it’s definitely not the way of thinking of many other people. Sure you can’t know what people really think and sometimes they hide stuff. However I can assure you that most of them don’t care about introspection, philosophy, being alone. And they generally discover it later. I’m even surprised by the number of people who regret to not have been more carefree during their teenage years, considering how carefree they were to my mind. And most of them enjoyed so much their teenage years and seem to regret their adult years. It’s astonishing to see the number of people who consider their teenage years as the funniest one and see the adult years as boring (husband/wife, children, job, …). Even my mother was surprised when I said that being a teenager is the most horrible period and nobody would wants to go back to this period. She was looking at me like I said the most surprising thing she could have ever heard. Because to her mind, it was cool (despite the fact that she spend entire night complaining about her family). Thus I really have the impression that what you describe isn’t the reality of the majority. However maybe I’m wrong. I would really like to hear others’ opinion

  20. I don't think the makers of this video were talking about extremes as some have commented critically. However, as one that has had more than a few hard times through my life (42 years), I can now look back and have a strange sense of great fulness for some of my hardships. If it wasn't for the bullies in middle school and early high school maybe I wouldn't have been strong enough to endure my now ex in my teens and early 20's that gave me my 4 kids. If it wasnt for the bullies and my ex maybe I wouldn't have been strong enough to bare being a single parent on my own for all those years and if it wasn't for all of those difficult times put together, maybe I would have just given up when my son died a few months ago. I needed those difficult times to be able to get me through today! 😢

    Our experiences can bring us down or they can lift us up! It just depends on how we want to look at it.

  21. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 11 and attempted suicide at 15. I've had a fairly "normal"/healthy childhood and my parents never really got why I had depression. I can't really explain why I have depression but it's so drowning sometimes.

  22. Unfortunetly for many of us, the things we feel as teenagers never go away and only become worse with time, except we can't really tell anyone because by the age of 30 you're supposed to have overcome your self-hatred, inability to connect to others, lack of confidence, etc.

  23. What a luxury to indulge in melancholy, self-pity, and feeling misunderstood. I was too busy trying to actually survive having two emotionally and financially unstable parents to feel miserable. As soon as I could be I was out volunteering at the hospital, joining a sports team, then working while going to school and going 10-12 hours without a meal every day because my folks couldn't afford to give me lunch. After high school I was working to get my own apartment, then working in an executive position while putting myself through B-school. Never had time to worry or feel sorry for myself.

  24. bro im 13, wtf this is so not fair 😭😭😭😭doesnt help im a nihilist too. im so lonely, i have nobody, im on my own own yeah, so lonely, (so lonely). i have seen too much, with the help of the internet and my own life. my world isnt blue, its black and white, except the color schemes are inverted.

  25. I don’t understand how self-hatred is always seen as a problem. Isn’t it possible that I am in fact as pathetic as I believe?, because in that case self-love would just be delusional. Are we supposed to think it is completely impossible for a person to be as horrible as we think we are or is it that we should think it’s too unlikely to consider it?

  26. This video nails it! We all suffer from something that happened "TO US" and not as a result of something we did. The trials we are made to endure in this life aid us in our spiritual growth and are absolutely necessary for our spiritual development. Put the blame where the blame belongs (usually with your patents) and stop blaming yourself for the wrongs committed against you as a child… IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT! And there's nothing you could have done to change things. Just know, your suffering is absolutely essential for your spiritual growth. The road home can be rocky in spots.

  27. to develop proper trust in other human beings it can be deeply important to be able to test a few examples to tell them the very worst things one can think of and then watch them stick around and forgive one you have to have a few goes at breaking love to believe it can be solid

  28. so the fact that i have had a horrible adolescence and literally gave up on life,am unemployable and would rather die than try anything in my life that requires a minimun amount of effortis a good thing


  29. The title implies that suffering, especially during your teenage years, is a prerequisite for wisdom. In my experience most people who were unhappy as teenagers ended up becoming drug addicts and alcoholics trapped in second rate jobs and crippling debt. There’s no value or lesson in that. It’s just sad.

  30. My parents stopped treating me like a kid when I was 9, now I'm 16 and I'm terrified about turning 18. Will everyone stop having pity for me because I'll be an adult? I don't want to keep growing up, everyone stops loving you to focus on other children because "you're grown up, you must start working, nobody will care about your emotions anymore because you're grown up, you have to solve your problems yourself"
    Adolescence is the only time I have to say "Idk, I'm just a kid don't ask me lol" when I turn 18 I'll have to get serious and I don't think I can handle it. Help

  31. Idk why this vid is in my recommendations now, but I’m really glad it was. All things considered on the surface I have a really good life. My dad is paying for my college and I’m getting good grades. When I want something, all I need to do is ask. But when I was around thirteen I realized that I didn’t really want all the things I had been asking for, I just wanted to spend time with my dad. My absentee dad who always at work and when he gets home doesn’t want to spend time with me. Whenever I disagree with him on something he says I hate him. When I want to talk to him he just tells me to go away. I knew he loved me, still does, but I eventually decided to just be quiet since he always didn’t want to talk to me. Then he asked me why I was ignoring him. So eventually I packed up most of my stuff and started living with my mother who could give me the attention I wanted so badly and started visiting my dad on weekends.
    It’s funny actually. I got every material thing I wanted as a kid, but at the end of the day I just wanted to be told no.

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