The halls of a crowded high school are often intimidating. I walked through hundreds of lost people, some jocks, geeks, or just shadows, feeling more alone than ever. Each person had their club and place in this building, and with them, I suppose we felt more comforted in our awkward stage between childhood and adulthood.
When I walked down the small hallway of my own club and saw all my friends, I smiled brightly and said, “Good morning!” with as much merriment and friendliness as I could muster.
It was 7.20 in the morning, and it seemed I was the only early bird on campus, the only person truly awake under the age of 18. My friends stopped what they were doing to look at me, and I am not sure if it was my blinding blonde hair, my cheerful voice that boomed around the hall, or my freshly lipsticked lips turned upwards that made them all glare and roll their eyes. This was the first time I realized that high-schoolers did not like to be happy.
Teenagers have an awful lot of problems to deal with, and we assume it comes as a packaged deal. Nothing is good until you are an adult, living on your own, with a whole life of adventures ahead. Being unhappy was what we knew, but as for me, I never wanted it to be that way.
I have had many problems in my life, and still, nothing could make me be rude enough, angry enough, to not greet someone back. Although, it is not just high-schoolers. A few weeks later, I left my house in the early November air to warm my car, and the neighbor across the street came out to get her mail. She was a fragile, elderly woman, and her gray curls bounced as she came down her driveway. She looked right out at me, and I called to her, waving, “Good morning!” She said nothing and continued walking.
Call me old fashioned, because I have different ideas than others my age, but when a person greets you, you greet them back. It is called respect, and long before I was born, it was proper and necessary to greet someone with it.
A stereotype for teenagers now, Generation Z, is that we are glued to our phones and do not care about the world around us because of our absence of respect. I am betraying my generation by saying that, sometimes, I agree.
What we must remember is that the negativity in our world does not lie just on Generation Z’s shoulders but on everyone’s. People in this world are not as respectful or as happy as we ought to be. Not only is this a sign of how much consideration our society lacks, but this is a sign that more and more people are becoming unhappy, and this might be one of the worst things for us to experience.
Everyone complains about being unhappy, but they find more reasons to stay that way. If one decides to stop being courteous, one would feel worse than before and grow unhappy all the same. Many people decide to stop taking care of others to be themselves, be happy. This is a common idea, but being happy is caring for each other and making the best out of any situation.
Most people do not understand what being happy is really about. Our society believes that having no issues is what makes you happy, but realistically, we always have them. Being happy is staying positive and joyful even when we have problems and things are going wrong.
I grew up post 9/11, in a society that denies racism, sexism and homophobia exist, even though we have clear examples in plain sight. In other words, I grew up in a world that has a lot of hate, violence and sadness, and it is silently affecting everybody.
Our world is full of aggressive and unstable people, ones who kill at the drop of a hat because of road rage or problems at home, and this scares us. We could be the unlucky people at the wrong place at the wrong time. We are terrified of losing our lives because of somebody being careless. The world is becoming more dangerous and unsettling than most people ever thought it would. The terrorist attacks are growing more frequent, and I, like most, am afraid for our society and what we will become.
We did not experience World War I or II, but we know from history books what happens during and after war. After fighting, everyone is shattered and broken, feeling empty. We know what the aftermath of blood and rage is. We are it. We are what became of people after war, and I am scared to see how much farther we will go down the path of hate.
When I walk casually down the streets, I feel the compelling negativity drifting through the air. I choke on the stale sourness of it. It tricks us into thinking sadness is normal. Mankind is not supposed to be this way, and I feel in my gut that there must be something good left. We need to find it.
Positivity is hiding behind foul words and hateful violence. We must attain it and bring it back into our hearts. Something needs to be done, and no one is willing to do much to reverse the process of the last few decades. We are scrambling in our individual lives to find some way to make it all go away and forget about the problems we share.
Forgetting causes ignorance, and that solves nothing. The only thing we can do is be happy, for now. Eventually, more solutions will come, and the fog of negativity will become less sickening, and we can be together for it all, as a society, as a world of positive people.
Being happy is not about having no problems to deal with, but more about accepting them. When you wake up, think about happy things, sing in the shower, eat a Poptart instead of oatmeal for breakfast, and live your life no matter what obstacles come your way.
Our society is extremely separated, but that will only make us weaker. We must be happy together if we are going to make the world a better place. The first thing you could do is smile and start saying, “Good morning!” back.
Nichelle Taylor is a 17-year-old band and book geek, pursuing her dreams to be a writer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. If you would like to see more from her, follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog.