i work in education. my specific job title is “special education tutor”, but i much rather generalize my title as “educator.” i have been working alongside high school teachers and sharing the constant burden to provide sufficient services with inadequate resources.

we tell these kids that they have to be responsible, you know, do your homework, come to class (on time preferably), get good grades, pay attention, don’t talk so much, talk more, be a better communicator, don’t dream too big, dream bigger. being a teenager is like living in a dichotomy. i’m 26, and i don’t feel like an adult. i’m supposed to be responsible. i’m supposed to do laundry and buy groceries and make money and pay rent and utilities and bills and loans. i’m supposed to get enough sleep and eat healthy. i don’t do any of that well. sometimes i do. sometimes i feel like i’m on top of my responsibilities, but in reality, i’m still learning. i feel more like a kid than adult sometimes. i haven’t gone grocery shopping in three weeks so the other day i ate a frozen snickers bar for lunch because i wanted to take a nap. we tell these kids that they need to manage their time, be organized, and prepare to be an adult. how can i teach them how to do all of that when i don’t know?!

as adults we neglect to remember what it was like to be teenagers. we forget how much the world has jaded us. we forget how cynical we’ve become once we get into the ‘real world’. we get caught up with the injustice of the world and the worries of finances. we’re bogged down by bills and errands and promotions and raises. we forget that we didn’t know anything much either. we had to be taught. and how can someone learn how to do something, or a new concept if we’re not given grace and patience to fail? how can someone take risks and grow if we’re not given the space to do exactly that? we have too high of expectations sometimes. we want teens to do a certain thing or know something particular, without any foundation, without any assistance. isn’t it our responsibility as adults to teach, to train, to equip? we can complain about the younger generation all we want, but what positive impact will that have? young voices need to heard, not silenced. we must invest our time and talent and encouragement into the lives of young people. it is this generation that will change the world.