Before leaving for the summer, (again, Thank the good Lord for getting us through the year!) I had a couple of interesting talks with my teenagers.
Some of them are getting ready to apply for college. Some of them are working toward getting jobs for the first time. Some of them are concerned. Some of them need to be concerned.
But one in particular, I’ve charged myself with assuring him he will be okay.
I had a conversation with him about my experiences with college and life, and I told him I had very credible advice, since it came from my mother. I told him what she told me, and what she still has to tell me nearly every day:
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
My student lives in a world where he doesn’t feel he has the money to have options, or the ‘bravery’ to take on debt. He is secretly scared and confused, and wondering if he is ever going to be happy. That’s a hard thing to address; to tell someone how, no matter how many times I’ve known going into trouble, I knew I would be okay even after it.
I remember when I was younger, I read an article that said, statistically speaking, on average, the most stressful age in life is 22. Taylor Swift is probably the major exception to the rule.
I remember being 22, and I’ll be more than happy to agree with it. That was my first full year in the workforce after college, and it was a hard punch to the heart to realize college is full of idealism compared to the reality of the real world.
When I was 22, I worked a private school, and we were so two-faced I’m surprised we just didn’t grow an extra face on the other side of the head. We had to be. We had kids do terrible things at school, and we had to tell the parents, “No, it wasn’t that bad” instead of “You’re lucky we’re not calling the police.” (I found out later public school is even worse.) Apparently, this sort of thing goes on in nearly every business, but all through college, we’re told to “report it,” or how to deal with it, or sometimes it is even ignored. My favorite method, thinking about it, was just focusing on how “it was best for the kids.”
You know what? I didn’t enjoy it, and I quit (something I never typically do). And I am fine. It took some time, some soul-searching, and some encouragement and venting, but I am okay. I am still not happy about the unfairness of the situations when I think about it, and I feel terrible for the kids at the schools in those situations, but I am okay. And since I know more about the problem, I can do something about it. And I do. I highly encourage people to be involved in their children’s education, but to have a balance with it (you would not believe how many parents just care about grades and social issues, not what their kids are actually learning, and then on the other side of the issue, there are parents who don’t want their kids learning anything that they personally don’t agree with).
I teach at a Christian school now, and while I do wish I was allowed to teach 1984, I’ll take the Orwell ban over insecure, micromanaging hypocrites breathing down my neck all day long. I don’t think all Christian schools are “the answer,” but the “answer” instead is being in a place where you are able to be trusted, rather than where you are held “accountable.” There is a huge difference.
My problems have paved my way for opportunities, as Strive Masiyiwa would say.
And I told my student everything would be like that for him, too. And he is in the best place of his life to have a crisis of some kind, because he has a hugely supportive family, loving teachers from school (myself included), and he has a community of friends who will come beside him and rally with him. And he does believe in supernatural provision, like I do.
You can’t run from trouble. You will meet in on the battlefield. You need to be trained to handle it, you need to know what do to help recover from it; but in the end, you will win if you can endure and start over again. You are never down until you choose to stay down.