Each year many teenagers run away from home, the chief causes being…..

Life can be a tough proposition for a multitude of reasons. They may not always be justifiable nor can they be swept under the rug. Leading a life devoid of difficulties renders a person incapable of achieving the humongous success we all desire. Neither do we choose the family we’re born into nor the circumstances that we are brought up in. However, that said, the choices we make are our own and that’s what defines and shapes our individuality.

A teenager garners the constant need of approval from peers and is normally on a rebellious streak. Their self-confidence is always through the roof while their self-esteem is often determined by others. This age is a solid age of inflexion or transition from childhood to adulthood wherein a teenager always feels like running away from reality instead of tackling it head on. This age opens the Pandora’s Box of fears and conflicts which leads to a high degree of pessimism and fuels suicidal tendencies among some. Often, many choose the path of running away. This may be because of a total disregard of reality, the fear of expectations weighing down upon them or in search of greener pastures. This is not an exhaustive list but represents the principal reasons why a teenager has the sudden urge to run away from his home, parents and life.

Failures have been known to stir up such thoughts among teenagers. The thought of failing at something shudders most of us. However, one must realize that success and failure are two sides of the same coin and one must learn, to quote Rudyard Kipling,

“To treat these imposters just the same…”

The fear of failures arises due to the expectations weighing down upon the individual. A parent may unknowingly impose such a burden upon a child leading to fear of failure. Such expectations are not uncommon from peers as well. Failure, leading to loss of face among the society, is enough to haunt the weak-hearted. Every individual has a different, albeit specific, coping mechanism. For a veteran of failures, it’s another feather on the cap but for a successful individual, it may be a grave nightmare. It all boils down to a person’s limits. What one requires is a basic understanding that failure is a part and parcel of life and it is not worth sacrificing and endangering the lives of oneself and others included.

It is understood by most adults that life is no bed of roses. It has its own ups and downs, crests and troughs. But understanding and more so, accepting this reality can be a challenge. Another prominent reason for teenagers abandoning their home is the absence of a hospitable and conducive environment. As stated before, we cannot choose where or how we are born, it’s just something we all must deal with and learn to live with. For some, it’s harder than others. Imagine and abusive environment, ruled by poverty and violence, stinking of gambling and alcohol and simultaneously giving rise to domestic violence. Can a teenager possible deal with all of these at once? We all have heard cases of alcoholic fathers indulging in the vilest form of abuse and violence. How long can one tolerate such torture? Once a child enters mid-late teens, he/she realizes that running away will be their only option. These runaways are escaping their realities although, there’s nothing wrong with this. There is no shame whatsoever in escaping a downtrodden fortune for a hopefully pleasant future.

The world is ripe with examples of individuals never being in sync. Conflicts among parents and their kids is a principal reason for the presence of runaways. Perhaps all of us have had fights or skirmishes with our parents due to a clash of ideologies and the egotistical nature of humans at large. Parents want what they think is best for the child and for the child to avoid making the same mistakes they did. Teenagers, on the other hand, are explorers and always search for new identities. Conflicts may be as simple as subject/stream selection in high school or as complex as spouse selection, evident largely in India. Parents seldom approve of a child’s choices, assuming that the child (who is also a teenager) is incapable of making sound choices. Such conflicts can give rise to animosity and feelings of ill-will. This encourages the young adults to run away from their home to exercise their rights and to live a life based on their own set of rules and principles.

We almost always assume that the reasons for running away are mostly pessimistic and result due to conflicts and lack of communication. However, a major portion of teens also run away in search of greener pastures. With the advent of television and worldwide media, exposure to extravagance and hope is just a few buttons away. Teenagers in dirt-poor regions often have high hopes and dream big. In India, we see teenagers from even the remotest corner of the country flock to metropolises like Mumbai to earn the big bucks. Mumbai has always fuelled dreams of teenagers of making it big in the Bollywood. Even the industry today is filled with such real-life examples, Shah Rukh Khan being one of them.

Perhaps most teenagers, who run away from home for a better standard of living fail miserably but none achieved more success that the Honorable Prime Minister himself, Narendra Modi. Modi ran away from home, deserting his family in his pre-teens. His fascination with the RSS had begun quite early while his poverty and his non-consensual child marriage didn’t help either. Modi ran away from home to follow his dream of becoming an RSS pracharak only to end up being the Prime Minister. His family was quite poor and he worked at his father’s tea stall. His humble origins are no secret. A major reason for this bold step by him was perhaps being married, against his will, at a tender age. He is the best example of what drives teens away from home, symbolizing conflict and high hopes among today’s teens as well.

The biggest blame that one can put on for runaways is on nobody but the teenagers themselves. Of course, parents play a major role in bringing about inhospitable condition and conflicts but at the end of the day, it’s the teenagers who must become more and more accommodating as one cannot be treated like a child forever and growing up isn’t a choice. Failures and conflicts are an integral part of life and bouncing back from them is the key. Perhaps the most justifiable reason for such escapism is the search for a better life. Successes may be few, failures many but only those who persevere may be able to seize the day.

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