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What Time Has Told: Teens, Willow Smith

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These days, we know age is no barrier to experience and youth is no barrier to wisdom.

For our latest HerCanberra Magazine: Time, we asked eight women across eight decades what life has taught them.

Willow Smith

A lover of Netflix and Harry Potter, Willow is currently trying to nail three things: Year 12, winged eyeliner and reverse parallel parking.

What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

A year ago, I was going into a new school and had to adjust my perspective around my place and my grades, which dropped a little at first, leading to major self-doubt.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a vast and diverse range of people in a school year group, and everyone has it tough sometimes.

You are never as alone as you think you are.

What are your biggest fears for the future?

I guess I am worried about what I’ll do in the future. It’s very easy to be caught up in all the choices and focus on what I can’t do rather than what I can, but I like to think the future is pretty rapidly changing and there is no one path to happiness.

I do sometimes worry that my old age will be spent in a panic as Australia tries to escape the hole our current government is digging us into.

What are three things your teen years have taught you?

  • I feel like this is a pretty simple one, but ‘no one is judging you’. I feel like this generation of teenagers isn’t about conforming to the status quo. We’ve evolved, if you will, to celebrate differences. I’m very proud of that.
  • Know when enough is enough. This can be hard. As teenagers, we are constantly told that our futures are on the line—and that’s really scary! I’ll tell you what’s really a huge part of your future: the stress standard you set in your teen years. I strongly feel that it’snot said enough—nothing is worth your mental health.
  • Lastly, teen years really are the time to do literally anything, because most of it won’t affect your future and even then, only the good stuff will count. I used to think the world depended on my Outdoor Ed grade. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Generation Z?

I feel like misconceptions about Gen Z are put on us because others didn’t have something when they were growing up: too much internet, too much technology, the ability to do the things that other generations never dreamed of doing at our age.

It’s not our fault it’s no longer acceptable for children to disappear for a whole day with two cents and a packet of Band-Aids. Instead, our generation is empowered by that technology we’re so often criticised about.

I mean, look at the School Strike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion—these movements are powered by switched-on Gen Z kids. Just because we’re not growing up like you did, doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to travelling in the future.

Getting out to the world might help me figure out what I want to do, or how I want to do it. Taking some time to figure me out, you know?

PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here.

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