Vale la pena
Walking down the corridor I notice the transformation in the faces of past high school graduates. The firm jaw lines, the bright eyes, the “can-do” attitude, the maturity in those young faces have been replaced with a babyishness and lack of firmness. Young people haven’t changed, so what did?
When I think back to the accomplishments of young people generations past, I am amazed at the huge difference between then and now. “Teenagers” farmed, hunted, invented, taught school, went to war, were self starters creating jobs for themselves at extremely young ages.
I understand that part of the change came through parents who didn’t want their children to work as hard or suffer as much. Part of the change came through legislators who felt children should be protected from unscrupulous businessmen. Yet I can’t help looking at other cultures and seeing the difference in maturity levels and wonder if we didn’t trade off something precious.
Maybe the idea that the “teenage” brain doesn’t develop until 25 is flawed. Maybe those “teenage” brains just need more experience and responsibility. Certainly the youth of decades past were young men and women who took responsibility for their actions and pride in what they accomplished.
Maybe our search for “comfort” caused us to give up something more invaluable than we expected. The value of difficulty. The value of struggle.
Everyone knows a butterfly must struggle from the cocoon to send strengthening fluids to crumpled wings. Unfortunately when we apply that to real life we have a tendency to remove anything unpleasant or difficult from our own lives or the lives of our children.
Baby sea turtles are abandoned by their parents. They struggle down vast stretches of beach to reach the life-giving waves. Not once or twice but repeatedly. The receding waves carry the babies higher on the sand and they repeat the process–until they learn to ride the waves. It’s not just the struggle down the sand; it is the struggle in the water, learning to work with their circumstances that gives them the strength and experience to swim and survive in a cruel ocean.
Maybe it’s time we ask more not less of our young people, set higher standards with regard to personal accountability, give them ample opportunities to learn, to grow, to fail.
Yes, failure is part of learning and growth. Without it, we won’t survive.
Vale la pena.