Posted in response to Writing 101, Day 9: Reinvent the letter format.
I see you sitting quietly on the edge of the action, deciding whether you will jump in and get involved or not. You are observing the situation, sizing up the participants, and gauging whether or not you will take part. I see the uncertainty you are feeling as you approach new situations and new people, wondering what will happen if you insert yourself into this activity and this group. As you sit here, you are deciding the likelihood of your success, defining what that success might look like, and determining whether you will be rejected if you don’t succeed…and if it matters.
I see your struggle because I have been around teenagers for the vast majority of my life. I have been a teacher, coach, mentor, dorm parent. These days, I am even a parent to my own teenagers. Eons ago, before the Internet and cell phones and MP3 players, I was a teenager. And despite how old I may seem, from my perspective, it wasn’t that long ago.
Adolescence is a bumpy ride. You may hear that these are the best years of your life, but don’t believe it for a second; these years are tough! Some of your friendships may grow stronger, but some will dissolve. Through the conflicts you have with friends now, you will learn to recognize the people who will be there for you through thick and thin—the friends you will support and who will support you through even the toughest of times, the ones you will want to keep close by always. These years can have a huge impact on the person you will become and the sensitivities you will have. I see the tolerance you have developed when you accept the people around you, regardless of how they are different from yourself. You have watched how mean other people can be, and you have recognized that not everyone is thoughtful, considerate, and accepting of others.
You are caring and sensitive and polite, and you are stronger than you believe. These traits are important. They will help you to navigate life and make your mark. And you will leave a beautiful mark in the footprints you leave behind.
Consequently, I would urge you to make good decisions and live like you don’t care what other people think. In the grand scheme of things, the opinions of others don’t matter. What matters in your life are your own opinions and those of the people closest to you. Be nice, be creative, be loving, but most importantly, be brave enough to stand out. Remember… fitting in is over-rated.
So jump in there and be a participant. These people are having fun, and you are likely to have fun, as well. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend. Perhaps you’ll discover a new activity you love. You never know until you try! Life is short—get involved and live it to the fullest.
May you always know that any time you need it, you have support right here!