What does it mean to be an American? Voice of young Americans

What do you think they can think? Are they proud of being the American citizens?

The characteristic feature of young people around the world is their need for – of course variously understood – freedom. Can America be considered a place where the youth feel free enough? It surely can, but how it looks like from the teenagers’ point of view, what else they consider important?

We often undervalue teenagers, thinking that they are still too inexperienced and shallow, but in fact, Gallup Youth Survey proved that young people think really deep and usually have a very solid point of view, even if we observe how they still act childish and do not seem to be engaged in the serious world of adults. The survey checked what teens between the age of 13 and 17 think of being an American. Below we present some of their opinions.

A 16-year-old girl said a very interesting thing: “Being an American is just caring about the good of America. It doesn’t mean agreeing with everything the government does, but at the same time you have to agree with the most core values …”. Many of the surveyed teenagers admitted that they love their country, they are happy to live in it. For some of them the thing is clear. As a 17-year-old boy said: “It means having citizenship in the United States. It doesn’t matter if you burn flags or join the armed forces, if you have citizenship you are American.”

As we could predict, many of the youth feels proud of their country for its diversity and freedom. Another 16-year-old girl claimed that in her opinion being an American means being “able to have our own ideas and beliefs, and being able to express [them], along with the freedom of being an individual who is different from everyone.”

The USA was born on diversity and was growing up to tolerance, that is why, the Americans appreciate these core values on which they were raised.  A 14-year-old girl’s opinion can sum it up: “I think to be an American means accepting others, treating everyone equally, being open to new ideas and thoughts, understanding and appreciating your freedom, and not taking what your ancestors did for granted.”

Furthermore, young Americans perceive the USA as a country of open future and great chance for success. They partly see it in the freedom which the country provides, but they also see the USA as a country of hopes and never-ending chances. A 14-year-old girl answered in this way “[to be an American is] to have freedom. To be able to dream and try to be anything you want … My parents taught me to always do my best and to always have hope, even if you get knocked down over and over. In America, you have the right to always get up!”

How about some negative opinions? There were such of course, but these were rare. The Americans are sometimes seen by different nations as too optimistic and too self-centered. But what American teens think is wrong? “To be an American is to be blind to [the] world’s problems, and to consume its resources,” said one 16-year-old boy. Then, a 16-year-old girl expressed: “I am grateful to be in a country with so many freedoms. I just don’t like how high-headed America is and how we may be a little more headstrong than we can handle.”

It is fantastic that so many young Americans are proud of being the citizen of the USA. There is a bit of criticism, but it makes the whole situation just healthy. We must see the dark sides so as to make it possible to make improvements. Therefore, let’s not be too “high-headed” and try to be better and better.