Earlier this week I read a Facebook post written by a high school classmate. Her daughter was rejected by a group of girls she wanted to befriend. The post touched me as a mother. Who doesn’t want to shoulder the pain for their children? It also brought up a lot of memories. Who at some time hasn’t felt on the outside looking in?
My son has been fortunate. So far he has navigated his teen years mostly unscathed. He’s had the typical ups and downs, but he has always lived comfortably within his own skin. He’s taught me a lot, to be honest.
I know I’ve said it before–we are neither as awesome or as awful as we might believe during high school. Hormones are a natural amplifier, and our teen years are a time when we take in unkind words too deeply and replay them too often.
This time, however, is also where we tend the soil for our adult selves. We pile up all of the detritus of childhood, a large amount of manure, and cover it with the hope that no one knows exactly what’s under there. It’s true of everyone. Cruelty is just one form of cover. Throw attention onto someone else and perhaps no one will notice how terribly flawed we are. Does it work? In the short term, perhaps.
Just as plants can’t flourish in bad soil, neither can people. We do reap what we sow, or at least we reap from the soil we sow our seeds in. It’s hard to think about that as a teen. It’s the lifestage of oxymoron. Teens feel they are adults, but also sense adulthood is this far-off place where strange and boring people dwell, where they eat responsibly and go to bed at 10:00 p.m. I’m sure my son would be so pleased to know that I’ve called him an oxymoron.
But my point is this–their manure only poisons their own soil. Call it Karma, if you like, but I firmly believe that who you are today can’t help but influence where you will be tomorrow.
I am sure that my high school classmates would have sarcastically predicted that I would spend my days surrounded by books, writing English essays for the fun of it. I have spent my entire life working towards doing just that. I have never been happier. I even get paid for it. And if someone really screwed with me, I make them a character in a story and kill them off. Petty, but incredibly satisfying.
Knowing that a situation is temporary doesn’t make it hurt less. I can’t count how many times people told me things like “it’s their loss” and “you’re better off without them.” What do you know? They were right. From what I’ve heard, my classmate’s daughter sounds like a kind and thoughtful young woman, which means she’ll grow into a kind and thoughtful adult. Nothing makes a mother more proud.
So, daughter of my classmate, tend your soil and grow, and remember that sunflowers turn towards the light. Eventually, those who don’t see light’s promise will stand in your shadow.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Arsenie Coseac © 2007 Creative Commons