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There's the "Emos" and then there's the rest

By Viga Boland     May 24, 2007 in Lifestyle
Amaranth posted a very interesting piece on Digital Journal this morning about "Emos".
If you missed it, you can read it here.
Emos were on my mind when I came across an article about other teens: the ones who are so busy doing things they have no time to be "emo".
These are kids like Cassie Baboth, 18, who's up at 7am, spends her morning in class, gets a little time in between to catch up on necessary things like eating and some household chores, and then heads off to her part-time job in a clothing store 2-3 days a week and both days on the weekend.
And according to a new study released yesterday by Stats Canada, Cassie has lots of company. It appears many non "emo" kids are nearly as busy as their parents and live pretty hectic lives between school, study, work and whatever is left for socializing. Here's the stats based on kids between 15 - 19:
On average, they do 7.1 hours of paid and unpaid labour per day. Paid labour is a job. Unpaid labour includes hours in school, homework and housework.
During the school week, Canadian teens averaged 9.2 hours of labour a day, making them No. 1 in terms of daily work among 10 developed countries. On weekends, they did about 3.5 hours.
One high school student, Bronwyn Jones, has been working part time since she was 13. Somehow she juggles 4 shifts a week at a fast food restaurant with school load and in the summer she volunteers.
Are these kids workaholics? Maybe. Why do they work? To earn money for their necessities? Probably. Is all this pressure to do so much a negative thing? According to Dr. Susan Williams, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University, it might be. She seems to feel that being so busy can cause stress, depression, anxiety and isolation.
Now I thought those were the problems the Emos were having after reading Amaranth's article: Emos are depressed, stressed and isolated, even suicidal. So if the learned doctor is correct, our hard-working teens are in trouble too. Hmmmm....
Somehow I think not. I honestly believe that being busy, being caught up in things, even when we feel overloaded sometimes is really good for the spirit and the body. I just bet these working teens have greater self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and more positive feelings than negative. And I bet when they fall into bed tired at night, they sleep better too:
Despite working 15 hours a week and going to school full-time, Stephano DiTommaso feels pretty good about his schedule. Although he does get a little overwhelmed at times, the 15-year-old enjoys having the responsibility that comes with handling multiple obligations.
From my point of view, these kids are learning early in their lives that hard work has its own rewards. They are learning that hard work gets you ahead and puts money in your pocket, instead of hitting on mom and dad whenever you need something. Unlike our Emos in their designer jeans and shoes, probably purchased by the parents, our hard-workers may or may not buy those designer clothes because they realize how long and hard you have to work to afford them. But if they do buy designer gear, they have the pleasure of knowing they bought it with their own hard-earned money.
So just how busy are these kids?
64 per cent of teens surveyed cut back on sleep to get things done
60 per cent spend an average of 2.2 hours a day doing homework
54 per cent of school-attending teens reported doing some unpaid volunteer work
39 per cent felt under constant pressure to accomplish more than they could handle
16 per cent considered themselves workaholics
Well one thing is certain, that 39% who feel under constant pressure might just have to cut back and learn to do a little less or take time out when it's getting on top of them, just like we adults have to do now and then. That's one of the hardest things to learn of course ie. to take time out.
But what these kids are doing is so positive. They don't have time to be "emo". They're too busy to be self-absorbed. They're too busy to be bored. Our emos need to join this group rather than the one they belong to. It would change their lives for the better, don't you agree?
More about Emo, Working teens, Stats canada