As we spread the word about mental illness this month, start with those you love, especially the children. Are they ok? Have you seen drastic changes in their behavior, excessive sleeping, sadness or withdrawal from activities they love? Working in a high school has provided me with the opportunity to understand the complexity of the teenage brain, as adults we are so focused on forcing them to have their lives figured out by the time they graduate high school. Most times we are still reminding them to clean the kitchen, clean up their rooms, stop having sex, don’t smoke weed yet, and defiantly don’t drink. Yet we want them in an Ivy League school, career goals, perfect girlfriend/boyfriend, manners, good drivers, good with money, all before they can buy a drink or register to vote.
Has anyone had a real conversation about college? Minus all the perfect brochures of smiling kids, lush grounds, culturally and racially mixed students smiling across the campus walking and studying, books in hand. Yeaaaa right!!!!! Where are the pictures of all of the broke, exhausted, half drunk, sometimes high, sleep deprived, poorly dressed (they love going to class in sweats or pajamas) forever late mini adults that college campuses are famous for. Where are the warning signs to “PARTY AT YOUR OWN RISK” because after a night of binge drinking you won’t be able to attend class for a day or two and you quite possibly might end up in the hospital! Or what about pledging? Yes your mother was an AKA or a Delta, and they want you to pledge, you really don’t want to and you are holding on by the skin or your teeth to pass your classes because now you have a boyfriend, no restrictions and your own room. You are so wrapped up in being in LOVE you can’t think about anything but “him”.
What about the lack of nourishment, most students save what little money their parents can send and find the most creative ways to make a cheap meal, jail might be the only other institution to compete with this level of culinary skill. Lastly, why didn’t anyone tell the kids they are responsible for their entire life! Yes, nobody is checking to see if you did your homework, studied for exams, turned in your work, registered for classes, or to advise you to stop getting the refund check. These are the people we want to finalize life decisions? They don’t have to have life figured out, all they need to do is have a deep love for something, and in loving that something, they will discover the mission they were placed on earth to complete. Money will come, success will come, and all of that material bullshit that we think will make us happy will come, but if they are living for the work they love, they would have figured out that things are irrelevant, my purpose to do good in the world invaluable.
I don’t know about you, but I am thinking about my own child who graduates next week, who was extremely handsome in his velvet suit for prom. This same handsome child who should have life solved lost his glasses from the hotel room to the hallway. Yes I will take my chances and give them some time to experience life, reduce the pressure of perfection (my nemesis) and encourage more of the moments where they are smiling and most creative.
Blessings over all of the graduates transitioning from the school stage into this unforgiving world, much love and happiness-Ny