… at all? Do you want too? If like me you’re teenage years – for the most part – were extremely uncomfortable; you probably don’t want to. I had some great times during my teenage years but they swung off particular things that I buried myself in, to hide from those things I just didn’t get – or want to be a part of.
I remember most of all that mad sense of having to be ‘liked’. Trying to be ‘cool’ – trying to be daring. I was after all a teenage boy. I was meant to be good at sports, well liked, popular with the girls and wearing cool clothes. Great right – a reasonable expectation of oneself in high school – that’s how it’s meant to be isn’t it? Well, maybe – all except for one simple fact: I was none of these.
This didn’t stop me trying though – I mean, come on – did it stop you? Think of all the energy you put into trying to be one of the others, trying to be liked, trying to get a cool laugh, trying to be seen – trying to not be invisible – knowing that really, you were anyway. Think what you could do with that energy now – why you’d…
…do it all again?
We’re nothing if not creatures of habit. Whilst those classroom days are long gone for a lot of us – we still practice the ‘rules of life’ we learned there. We still have the class bully in our workplace. We still laugh at the class clown. We still watch helplessly as the school beauty walks past. We still try to see clean through the person we feel doesn’t belong. We still band together with those we feel comfortable with – regardless of whether this is a healthy thing or not.
Do you have teenagers now? Do they frustrate you no end – make you gnash your teeth and tear your hair out? Yes – I realize I’ve bit into the polite end of the cliché continuum here – I didn’t want to tip this conversation over into the other end – but you get my point yeah? You’re peeved; annoyed; pissed off – because the little buggers Just. Won’t. Listen! Just like you did right? Oops. My bad… first rule of parents: forget that once, we too were teenagers! Got it! What happened back there – stays back there, right?!
But does that make any bloody sense at all?
You’re children have spent their subsequent 12 – 13 years observing you their whole life. Everything they know, everything they apply, everything they do, has one common denominator: you! Sure – we can blame their friends, blame technology, swear at the tv – curse their schools – but there is one vital thing that remains connected to all of them in this and that’s you. You do what you do – every day – pretty much on auto-pilot. Every bit of how you relate to people, engage them, dismiss them, categorize them – all of it – happens automatically up in your brain-box – in a matter of nano-seconds.
You – like me – are a product of our own childhood and teenage years. We’ve been taught and conditioned well and it doesn’t hurt to remember this when we take a look at our kids. I look around me sometimes; one of those rare moments when I pull my head out of my… well – when I pull my head out of the ‘sand’, and I see that which I’ve become. Sometimes – just sometimes – I actually don’t like the things I see. I have two little people in my life now. They are being shaped and conditioned as I write this. I’m scared stupid for them because I don’t want them to live a life they feel they need to be sorry for. I don’t want to measure them by MY life, I want to measure them growing into THEIRS.
So instead of confronting them with all the things they should be in life, I’m going to spend more time having them look at the things they don’t have to be. I’m going to enjoy watching them grow into the world they discover, at a pace that isn’t determined completely by me. I’ll tell them what they do well – rather than what they do badly. I show them that there’s more than one way to solve a problem – rather than tell them they have to do it my way. I’ll remember how it felt when I was stepped on, rather than helped up and I’ll try to survive their teenage years – when I get there.
Most importantly though – be kind on yourself too. Don’t go looking too hard at yourselves when you look back on your life. It’s important to know that you had about as much control in your own ‘conditioning’ as I’d have, herding tectonic plates!
Rather – get a good hold of that teenager beside you (the young adult to be) and take some new steps forward instead. Try some with them for a change and not without them!
Belongum – Out!