Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sacrificing Our Youth To Face Adulthood

 By Nathiel Tejada

“I don’t even know how to handle this type of thing.”
-                 -    Beatrice, Alveoli (Baby’s Breath) by Jeana Scotti

As teenagers in high school or as young adults in college, what are some things we can’t handle? Schoolwork? Our parents? Love? Isn’t love so beautiful and stressful? We all want to be in love or feel something close to love. We all want to express our love however we can. 

Handling love as a teenager can be hard because teens want to experience it in a way in which they may not have clear knowledge of. In other words, teenagers want to have sex before knowing well enough what it truly means to take that step. Do they know the consequences? Are they aware of what to use to avoid the consequences and where to find it? What if their parents aren’t talking to them about sex, should they get this information at school? 

As of today, out of all my Facebook friends, at least ten of them who either attended the same middle school or high school as me are either currently pregnant or already have a baby. While reading through their happy “I’m pregnant!” statuses and viewing their photos with their babies, I think of whether they intentionally wanted a baby or if they were even ready to have one. Either way, it must be difficult to balance school, the life of a teenager, and a newborn. 

What about young adults in college? They’re also expressing that love however they possibly can. One may think that by then, they would know the consequences, but many college women have gotten pregnant. Now, can a young adult handle the stress college brings, the social life enjoyed on campus, the pursuit of their future goals, and a newborn?

“Where would I even go to get an abortion for this?”
-          Beatrice, Alveoli (Baby’s Breath) by Jeana Scotti

If teenage girls or young women in college know they can’t handle a baby right at this moment, what are they going to do? Have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption, or struggle raising their baby? According to the organization Pregnant On Campus Initiative, 44% of abortions in the United States are obtained by college women, ages ranging from 18 to 24. Anyone can read this and have a different reaction because abortion is a debatable topic. Everyone holds different political perspectives towards abortion. Either way, out of all the abortions happening in this country, college students obtain 44% of these, which is a big statement. Imagine what percentage would belong to high school students? What can be done to prevent this number from increasing? Prevent abortions or stop our current behavior with sex?

“Now everyone wants me to kill it.”
-          Beatrice, Alveoli (Baby’s Breath) by Jeana Scotti

I had a personal experience with teenage pregnancy. During my junior year of high school, while I was waiting for the F train in Delancey St after finishing a typical school day, a girl sat next to me. She tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “How would you react if one of your friends got pregnant?” 

Being my sarcastic, playful self I told her that my friends and I used to make fun of each other’s experiences if one of us ever got pregnant. She began to cry and I thought, “Oh no, what’s wrong with me? Why did I just say that?” After judging my straightforwardness, I realized that she was pregnant and when I asked her, “Are you…” she just nodded her head. Without thinking it twice, I hugged her. She then told me that she just finished talking with her best friend and she told her to get an abortion. Her ex-boyfriend, the baby’s father told her the same thing. Her mother was disappointed on her and told her quote on quote to “kill it.” After hearing those words, I was struck because of how insensitive some might be, especially in this situation. 

When she finished telling me what everyone else thought about her pregnancy, I asked her, “What do you want to do?” She told me she wanted to keep the baby. She was happy she was pregnant because she always wanted to be a mother. She was willing to work hard to raise her baby. I told her that having a baby at her age would bring a lot of challenges but she wanted to face and overcome those challenges. While I looked at her in amazement, she asked me, “What should I do?” After thinking, I told her, “Do what you want. If you truly want this baby and you’re willing to work hard to give this baby a great life, then forget about everyone else and have this baby. This is your life, not theirs. Do what makes you happy. If this baby will make you happy, then forget about what everyone else thinks. This is your life.”

After I told her that, the F train came and since I was waiting for my brother, I couldn’t get on that train. She did and while she was walking towards the train, I said out loud, “Do what will make you happy!” She looked back, smiled, and entered the train. At that moment, I realized that some young women want to be a mother and that teenage pregnancy may not always be a burden.

“How could I- what would I? I can’t even take care of myself.”
-          Beatrice, Alveoli (Baby’s Breath) by Jeana Scotti

Whether teenage pregnancy is a burden or not is a debatable topic. What’s important is that many teenagers or young adults may not be ready to handle a newborn. Many are now learning to take care of themselves and thinking of their futures, how could they possibly handle another life? If a teenage girl in high school or a young woman in college gets pregnant and isn’t ready to have that baby, what should they do? If young women don’t want to deal with this tricky situation, then as a society we need to help them. We have to make sure teenagers in high school obtain the information they deserve. Scaring teenagers to prevent them from having sex by teaching them about the many sexually transmitted diseases is useful but that won’t necessarily stop them. Teenagers will continue to have sex no matter what. What we should do is provide them with the right tools to have safe sex. Young women in college know about these tools but sometimes they live in the moment without thinking of the consequences. In the end, women aren’t the only ones who need to learn about safe sex, men are responsible too.

The world of Entertainment has considered this controversial topic. MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are two current shows that navigate through the life of different teenagers as they raise their newborn babies. Each story offers a look into the variety of challenges pregnant teenagers face. The girls in this show are forced to sacrifice their teenage years to face adulthood. Both of these shows demonstrate the optimism among these girls and their dedication to make the lives of their babies greater. These shows are meant to show the reality of teenage pregnancy, which can teach teenagers watching both shows about the many challenges experienced when being pregnant before being ready. 

As teenagers in high school or as young adults in college, there are many things we can’t handle such as schoolwork, our parents, and the best one of all, love. Love is stressful but don’t we all want to feel it? Don’t we want to express our love however we can? Love has its consequences though. Love brings life. Love brings life even when we’re not ready. What do we do if we’re not ready? If a teenage girl in high school or a young woman in college gets pregnant and isn’t ready to have that baby, what should they do? Have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption, or have the baby but struggle to raise it?

ALVEOLI (BABY'S BREATH) in Series D in the Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival at the Theatre at St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street, NYC,  on Sunday, August 24th at 2pm.  For tickets go to #StrawberryOneActFestival  @RiantTheatre

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