THIS I BELIEVE
As crazy as it may sound to some, I believe in teenagers. I believe in their wholesomeness, their firm stance for what they believe to be fair and right, their brilliant, unfiltered, unbiased ideas, and their trust that others will see them for who they are inside.
I believe in their natural desire to make others feel comfortable around them (even when they may not be comfortable in their own skin), and their ability to own up to their shortcomings (even when those shortcomings are repeatedly held up in front of them as big hairy reminders of just how much they don’t know). I even believe in their right to be wrong – their impressive, unflinching ability to try out a behavior or attitude to see how it “fits,” just as an adult might try on an outfit in a department store dressing room; and, just as that adult might decide the outfit doesn’t feel right, I admire their ability to strip off that behavior and walk away from it, leaving it to lie on the messy floor of discarded ideals.
I believe in teenagers’ fearless attempts to create from their own, usually disorganized parts (along with those pushed at them by well-meaning family and friends), a whole, sentient, logical being they can live with and live within. I believe in their strength as they look at the decade in front of them – a time most of us remember as the hardest, most bewildering time of life — with joy and anticipation of great things to come.
Many adults fear teenagers; some seem to loathe them, hating their loud, outrageous behavior, their strange turns of phrase, and their sometimes bizarre personal décor. I celebrate these things (even though there are days I would like nothing more than to run out of my classroom and hide in a very quiet, non-teen-intensive locale). I celebrate them because they represent all that is good and honest and true about our society. These young people lay their hearts and souls right out there in front of the rest of us, ripe for the stomping, in order to find out exactly who they are and how they are supposed to fit into a world that doesn’t make much sense, even to us supposed “grownups.” Even though they receive the lion’s share of the rebukes, “I told you so’s” and “You shouldn’t haves” that are offered up on this lopsided globe, still they reach out to us and allow us to see deep inside their psyches. And although teaching them really is sometimes like trying to nail Jello to a tree, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything else on earth because, even though they are responsible for the furrow in my brow that is so deep you can almost see it from the back, when everything is said and done, I believe in teenagers.
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