Teenagers need to be forgiving


Alex Larson

Grace Wallace concludes, “Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person feels it.”

In the classic teenage comedy “Mean Girls” by Tina Fey, the main character Cady Heron wins Spring Fling Queen, even though many girls, especially Regina George, were unhappy with the nomination. However, as Cady begins to break the crown into pieces and share it with those around her, the hearts of the school begin to soften. So what is it that made this resolution so appealing and relatable; she was forgiven. 

However, this is just a movie, and it is unclear if teenagers in 2022 are willing to come to the same conclusion when someone hurts them physically, emotionally, or socially. 

According to Robert Enright, a licensed psychologist from Greater Good Magazine, “the teen’s willingness to forgive depends on what the norms are in their group and family. Similar to younger ages, the teen continues to be influenced by outside factors—here, other people’s beliefs and attitudes—rather than driven by an internal conviction that forgiveness is good in and of itself.”

This is prevalent in the responses gathered from A-West students. Each of the respondents seem to have a different idea of what it means to forgive someone, which was likely a result of different exposure to forgiveness while growing up. 

Grace Wallace, a junior at A-West, feels that forgiveness is extremely important. She explains, “I think withholding forgiveness is unhealthy for you as an individual. All it does is create anger inside of yourself and reflect negatively on your own life. Also, forgiveness does not mean trusting someone again. I don’t think forgive and forget is good advice, because you need to know who has proved to be untrustworthy before.”

A senior at A-West, Grace Cochran, has a different take on forgiveness as she says, “It truly depends on what a person has done. You can forgive someone for something, yet not want them in your life, which some people view as having not been forgiven. People tend to think that forgiveness means everything goes back to the way it was before the event that occurred, however it can’t go back because of everything that happened.”

However, 68.2% of students surveyed from A-West have not forgiven someone for something. Could it be time to move on from these unhealthy grudges, or is there a greater complexity to the situation?

In a study, subjects were asked to recall a situation where they forgave someone, while others in the group recalled a time where they did not. In the study’s abstract they explain, “We show that people induced to feel forgiveness perceive hills to be less steep (study 1) and jump higher in an ostensible fitness test (study 2 )than people who are induced to feel unforgiveness. These findings suggest that forgiveness may lighten the physical burden of unforgiveness, providing evidence that forgiveness can help victims overcome the negative effects of conflict.”

While every situation is different, it is clear that forgiving others, whether internally or externally, is vital to move on in life. Teenagers need to make an effort to forgive others now so that they can learn to let go of things before the negativity from the situation eats them up. Without forgiveness, someone is going to hurt more than they did during the actual situation. 

Wallace concludes, “Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person feels it.”