Why we should listen to Teenagers

​It has been quite some time since I last wrote on this blog. Well in my busyness as a high school teacher, I’ve never felt so preoccuppied almost all of the time. However in my a year and a half school year of teaching, I definitely would write no other topic than this one. 
I was 22 when I started teaching High Schoolers. I wasn’t exactly prepared because I absolutely have no idea what kind of behavioral tendencies students have at this age. I mean, I was used to teaching either kids or college studes and being in my early 20’s, I kinda forgot how my teenage years looked like.
All I know is that high school is such a tentative stage of life. Nothing is very much defined yet, not even a person’s full identity. So I felt that this is going to be just a passing time for me. That I couldn’t really gain much from these bunch of amorphous personalities. I just expect to teach and go home and earn money. 
But after more than a year, I proved myself wrong. 
Yes indeed, high school is such a psychedelic stage of life. People are excited, motivated, and all fired-up. Even the quiet ones have deep ideas running wildly in their heads. It’s like a different world, a different community of these young and fresh spirits. It’s such a nice contrast to the standard of life that our society has developed. There are not much underlying issues yet, but some of them are showing evidences of it. Which is quite good also for me as an observer because I’m learning how adult issues start. This is also the time when their passions and interests become more evident, and it’s amusing to see them become avid fans of different things. 
They’re like colorful flowering buds, some are already popped out brightly while others still reserved. It’s just a sad fact that soon many of them might just end up being conformed to the norms of our society. That soon they will have to find the standard “cookie cutter” of adulthood and be defined by those expectations.
But before those dreadful things happen, I wouldn’t want to miss the wisdom I’ve been getting from these teenagers. And perhaps it’s also important to note that in the first place, it kinda helped that being a young adult, I am not that “mature” yet in the sense that I am still interested at many people without much prejudice of them. So I think being interested is a key. Being a good and willing listener is really a great way to learn from them.
So here are some notable encounters.

This one student taught me that it’s okay to be awkward

She’s a smart, talented and awkward girl. But, she admits to herself that she feels awkward all the time and that most of her actions are just spur of the moment. 
I find it really cute, but why did I dread my awkwardness before? There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Even if it means I’m not attractive to guys. I mean, being awkward is fine and it’s a kind of personality, just like those upbeat, confident ones. They’re different but they’re both wonderful.
I think in this society where we are expected to act in an acceptable way, we miss the beauty and  originality of those people who are..well, awkward. Meeting such people who wouldn’t try hard to be “normal” kinda soothed the awkward side of me as well. And eventually, the awkward conversation turns out to be the most genuine one. Well, I think ultimately it’s the honest, mask-less person that makes the talk worth while. 
Cheers to the awkward and introvert in us. πŸ™‚

Another student taught me to be authoritative.
Even if he’s young, he has an admirable sense of authority over himself.
He’s the commonly misunderstood guy in school, mostly by teachers. Maybe because he’d be too aggresive sometimes. But it doesn’t end there.
He taught me to demand. Not in a bad way, but to be ambitious and have that attitude of asserting what you think would make your ideas possible. He loves grand and he loves coming out with the best things. Talking to him is like a tour in creative wonderland. He’s a melting pot of ideas, always boiling and ready to steam. 
What could possibly be the danger he’d face? Well, if this society would tell him to shut up. To be toned down, to be less aggressive. There couldn’t be a worse threat to his strength than for him to tolerate the status quo. I hope he won’t quiet down. A lot of our ideas die down because we don’t fight for it..
So being assertive, aggressive and ambitious is not a bad thing in itself. It’s for us to understand why such a driving force is important in our society, and where it can be possibly harnessed for the benefit of many.

On the other hand, another student taught me to smile at people, to hug people and to not mind talking out her thoughts
. (Mindfully though)
Oftentimes when we grow into adulthood, we tend to go back to our shell. We become awkward in hugging our admired friends and even in smiling at them with enthusiasm. Like, it becomes awkward to be happy and smiley. Also, we’d rather hide our thoughts and honest but constructive criticisms because we are bound with fears. I don’tknow how many people now still like it better when they are confronted-not only with good things about them but also their possible areas of development. Perhaps if this is our attitude, (hopefully it becomes mine) we wont grow up to be cold, close-minded, stuck-in-life adults. Learning and self-improvement is a lifetime. And personally I admire friends who’d tell me what’s wrong with me, instead of just praising me in the good things I project. 
So, smile, hug, say it with honesty! 

Lastly there’s this student who taught me to say “no”.
Very few times in our lives do we meet people whom we would learn much from. Although life taught me that people come and go, there are people who stayed in my heart, even if they’re not with me anymore. 
There are times, as a young adult, I am beginning to be entangled with my own issues and outside issues. It leaves me unable to see my options well, because I tend to go for the more accepted, less destructive, and safer way. Even if I don’t necassarily like my decision. One of my students confronted me in a way about this. I’m glad he told me that I tend to people please- not to offend me, but to make me look at myself in the mirror. In his young age, being untangled by other life issues, he sees a simple picture to my dilemma. And he tells me about it, just making me realize that I have a choice and that I can choose to say no, because that’s what I would really honestly say anyway. 

You see, these kids have fresh eyes. They see problems as situations with possible and even simple solutions. They may not be mature in terms of age, but then their season has its significance. In a Ted Talk by Kate Simonds, a 17 year old girl, she voiced out the truth about how teenagers think. That they have the capacity to solve things and to empathize. She mentioned a study that according to research in Stanford Uni, adult brain pathways  are more consistent  than those of teenagers’. Although biologically, adult brains are more connected, this doesn’t mean less advantage to the young brain. Having more spontaneous and scattered channels, they tend to be more creative. Although they don’t readily have the capacity to see the bigger picture, it is in the simple and small situations that adults can usually complicate, but teens can calculate. 
Even in the Bible, God used young people. Timothy was young, Samuel was young, David was also young when he was called. But I believe each life season has its wisdom to offer. And I don’t think it will harm us so much if we give it a chance. After all, the teenage stage is just a passing time. Soon the fruiftul amd active years will be gone, their voices will fade and tame down naturally. And after all, that’s what their stage really needs: to be recognized and listened to. And that is why, sometimes we should listen to teenagers. They’re fun by the way. πŸ™‚ 


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