‘What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.’ -Ryan Holiday
Youngsters complain nowadays about how they can’t find their passion. It’s a problem many of them face and one that I had when I was in high school too. There is so much stress and pressure in choosing what we will do for the rest of our lives. Parents, teachers and the school system don’t always help with guiding kids through the process. I believe it’s because the times have changed so drastically. Twenty or thirty years ago there was no internet and life was unpredictable and more spontaneous. I remember going out with friends for hours at a time and not returning until mid-afternoon when I was hungry for lunch. My mom would look at me and say: You hungry? And that was it. Not a lot of questions of where I was and what I was doing, there were no mobile phones to keep in touch and I basically was roaming around the neighborhood looking for action and up to no good some of the time.
Nowadays it’s not like that is it? Parents don’t let their kids out of their sights, keep them in closed spaces and under careful watch, even when they are 17 years old. Maybe it’s different in other countries but in the States, Poland and Greece it’s just like that. There are no more kids in the streets playing and running around like before. How are you supposed to discover your passion if you are always under guard? Always in a closed space, being monitored by a parent, teacher or chaperone? It’s crazy for me, but these are our times.
You want to know why? I got an idea. The MEDIA. When I was growing up we had 3 channels with local news and some programes and that was it. Now, ha! You got hundreds of channels broadcasting 24/7 news and with a newsfeed at the bottom of the screen for additional info for good measure. Not to mention your smartphone blowing up with the latest catastrophe. Are you kidding? Doom and gloom surrounding us. It’s no wonder parents live in a constant paranoia about their kids. Kidnappings, murders, rapes, wars, terrorism, scandals, abductions and on and on.
Break the vicious circle
So that brings us full circle doesn’t it? How can youngsters experience anything in these times of fear? Here’s an idea, let go! Just take a step outside and wonder, be curious and observe what’s around. Don’t get stuck in your social network, smartphone, TV or gated community. Escape from that and go out into the real world and experience it without parental supervision. Be free and make some decisions. Some will be good, and some may be bad and then you’ll learn and you’ll move on and grow. When it gets difficult, don’t just quit, suck it up buttercup! And stick it out, overcome and toughen up. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very nasty place so prepare for it by taking it on. I hope I’m making sense to some out there. Because it’s reality-check time, time to step up and actually do something without other people’s help. We are so dependent on others nowadays. People won’t do anything (this includes adults too) unless they get a recommendation or advice from someone who has done it before, fearful that they may make a mistake. Take charge and do it yourself and find what you are looking for on your own, without anyone’s help. Learn to be independent and resourceful and you’ll be amazed how much you’ll grow and learn just from the experience. It starts from that, you just got to make a choice, and it is yours to make, adult or teenager to go seek experiences. We ask others because we don’t want the responsibility, if it doesn’t work out, we can blame the person that advised us, instead of ourselves. Garbage, straight up, be accountable to yourself and that’s when you start growing your self-esteem and confidence.
Lack of experiences
As I mentioned in an earlier post, kids have access to more information than they can handle, which means they are generally very knowledgeable than we were when we were their age and had no internet. However, they lack experiences, and it’s through those experiences where we discover our passions. We need to experience travel, working under pressure, learning a new skill, finding a new hobby, or simply going out into the real world on our own and figuring out how to get by on a daily basis.
It isn’t an easy prospect and kids these days need to take responsibility for their actions when committing to a cause or endeavor they want to take on. It’s hard actually, but can be accomplished with a little perseverance and resilience. From a teacher’s perspective we can facilitate some of those experiences by sharing stories of our own, because people are moved by stories. It’s stories that make people believe in you or follow you, not posting an article on Facebook. Seems simple, but it’s a start. Besides, students care when a teacher shows them how much they care about them. Teachers can also show meaningful and inspiring TED talks, some are only four minutes long, like this one (how to start a movement). If you assign a project to your students, don’t let them get away with just regurgitating information from the internet, encourage them to take the lead and take some action. What does that mean? Record a video, make a sketch, make a vine (string of videos edited together), interview people or run a survey. These are all ways of taking action yourself and can be incorporated into any presentation students have to do. They need to be accountable for the message they want to convey not just read off a power point. That’s it, let’s get to it then.