I have spent the last few days working in the high school in my town. I had mixed feelings when I accepted the shifts. I like teens and I think they are fascinating, bewildering, terrible, wonderful beings. I am frustrated and inspired by them. They have the ability to make me weep for their cruelty and shed a tear of pride for their compassion and empathy. They are a puzzle and yet they are simply nothing more then kids trying to grow up.
It was in this storm of inner conflict that I began my days as an EA in the high school and I have to say that I have really enjoyed these days I have spent mingling with the teenage masses. I could tell a dozen stories about moments that touched my heart or made me laugh over the last several days and maybe I will in the weeks to come but there is one thing that I think its important to say now; something that I was reminded of time and again this week.
Teens aren't finished yet.
They aren't finished growing, maturing, thinking, dreaming, messing up, succeeding, learning and loving. They have countless adventures, experiences and life lessons ahead of them. They are full of potential and possibility and it is our responsibility, as the adults in their world, to nurture, protect and enable their success. Its never too late to reach a kid, to make a difference in how they see their world, how they see themselves.
No matter their attitude, their words or their habits all it takes is one adult willing to give a kid the benefit of the doubt, willing to love them in spite of themselves and ready to give forgiveness before its asked for. All kids need one caring, enthusiastic adult to believe in them, hold them accountable and help them navigate through the minefield that is The Teen Years. Even the most belligerent, negative kid is capable of acts of compassion and vulnerability. I've seen it for myself. This week.
Teens need to know that within them, under all the things they don't like about themselves, is an amazing treasure and the most remarkable thing about that treasure is that it is not hidden by the things they don't like but wrapped up in it ... like a gift. Their greatness is inside of and because of all the things that they will grow through and learn from and if we, the adults, are smart enough, we'll stick around and help these fascinating, bewildering, terrible, wonderful beings walk through their life lessons. We will get to see the gift that they are before it is even discovered by them. And that is the real joy of investing a little of yourself in someone else.
I would so much like young people to have a sense of the gift that they are. Not many of them feel like that.
~ John Denver