This is mostly about being different.
Maybe this is just about being yourself.
Because everyone is different.
Sometimes discernible to the naked eye and sometimes not.
Unfortunately … sometimes being different seems to put you in some hole where you appear to live where no one else lives.
Oddly enough if you can actually get out of the hole you would simply see that almost everyone has their own hole that Life makes you climb in and out of on occasion.
But inevitably, at some point, Life puts you in your hole and leaves you there … alone … with your thoughts … thoughts of how different you are or how different you think or simply how different your life is from every one else … and Life doesn’t help you get out of the hole. Because it is yours. And it is yours to figure out how to get out of.
Stay in the hole long enough and … yes … it begins to look like an abyss. A never ending abyss leading to some sort of personal hell.
In other words … not all holes and abysses are created equal.
We may like to think so but they aren’t.
An adult abyss is significantly different than a teen abyss.
I am certainly not suggesting that at any age you can find your way into a variety of different holes.
In fact … this hole thing … the abyss if you get stuck in the hole … when this abyss looks back at you it means that when you begin to know something that is fundamentally different from yourself … and you take a piece of it with you and it changes you and vice versa … all that I just said ? Well That much is pretty much the same at any age.
But that assumes you get out of the frickin’ abyss.
And that ability can only come from Life experience.
They just don’t have the experience.
And even as we know some adults need help getting out of the hole … kids DEFINITELY need help getting out of the hole.
The adult example?
I will use a wonderful West Wing tv show episode, Noël, scene where Leo tells Josh the following story:
“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’”
<The actual scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQJ6yqQRAQs >
These are smart adults.
Kids need the same help.
And I say this unequivocally … even if they are shrugging off the help or adamantly opposing the help or any other type of typical tween/teen independent ‘fuck you I don’t need your help’ attitude you will get.
Kids need help getting out of holes.
That’s it. No ifs, ands or buts.
They may not like asking for help … but they need it.
We encourage kids to embrace their individuality.
And we should.
We don’t want our kids to be alike.
“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” - The Dawn
Self esteem really isn’t about ‘being alike’ or similarities or being part of the crowd. Sure. It can play a role. But real self esteem comes from embracing the individuality … the ‘true to thineself’ aspect that lies within everyone if they seek it.
And in that path to a strong self esteem … there are potholes … sometimes some really big deep frickin’ holes.
I can almost guarantee every kid will either slip into a hole or go crashing into a hole at some point in their young Life. I can guarantee that because there are so many holes … real ones and created ones <the worries that inevitably follow a young person through their teen years> … that it is simply not possible to miss them all.
I will share a teen truth just to remind all of us adults.
Teen life and high school is not really a melting pot but more a jungle, run along crude and arbitrary lines of popularity. The kids <today as was yesterday> face the onslaught full spectrum of adolescent anxiety … worrying what your peers will think … secret crushes <and finding the courage to tell the object of what is sometimes simply a fantasy> … worrying you’re too poor <or too rich>, worrying about your parents … worrying if you are good enough … even worrying if haven’t rolled the cuff of your jeans up just high enough to be right.
Some of that sound silly? You bet.
But we should take it all seriously.
Teen life is the worst and the best of Life. It has dark, brutal undercurrents and the glittery sparkles of Hollywood all tempered by the disturbing ongoing clash of the dream and the reality.
All that said … they will need help getting out of whatever hole they fall in. And I am talking about active help … not simply insuring they now they have some intangible support system to lean on or reach out to. I say that because we are often quite flippant with regard to the belief that we are ‘there for them’ and the reality is that sometimes when they fall in one of their holes … they not only lose sight of you <and everything else> but the abyss steals their voice. For any number of reasons <fear, insecurity, embarrassment, esteem, misplaced courage, independence, rebellion> they will not speak up … or out from the hole.
You have to be active. You cannot simply say ‘here is a rope and I can pull you up if you need help and take it.’ More often we have to jump in the hole yourself and join them.
For if you permit them to linger too long in the hole … well … the abyss will gaze into them. And inevitably that abyss will find some dark corner in the mind and will find a place to live, eat an breathe for years and years to come.
Holes are fine in Life.
They are part of Life.
You just have to make sure you know how to get out of them.
Just make sure you teach kids around you to get out of them.
Make sure you do not simply offer a lifeline out of a hole but jump in with them and show them the way out.
It will be a Life lesson they will never forget.