Happy Sunday all,
It was Friday morning 8.50am; the first teaching period of the day. Another one of those sessions where I basically talk about life with the small group of pupils I have recently been assigned. We are fast approaching the end of the summer term. These 15/16 year olds will be on study leave in a week. They’re perched on the edge of a ledge called ‘life’ about to step off into their futures…
College, sixth form studies, work, apprenticeships and I felt, rightly so that there would be among them, some confusion and much trepidation.
For eleven years they have had the surety and comfort that the rules and systems of schooling bring. They’re institutionalised and now were being released into the world expected to know how to navigate life’s seas and steer their own ship. So, I asked told them I would not decide the topic of discussion that day, they would and that they could ask me ANYTHING…If I could answer it I would.
Well, I set myself up didn’t I?
One boy looked at me dolefully and came out with a whopper!
The Question of all Questions
He said: ‘What are we supposed to do?
I could see the confusion and underlying fear in his eyes and knew my response to the question needed to assuage his fear, but create enthusiasm at the same time. But most of all I knew I needed honesty in response to the question because they he/ were trusting me to prepare them for what lay beyond those school gates.
How does one respond to: THE QUESTION?
I responded adequately enough I thought.
There is so much more I could have said, but at the time with the need for spontaneity, this was the best I could do:
I told him we are here to learn…
We are here to use our feelings to show us what is right for us in this life; that their life is THEIRS and theirs alone and they know what’s best for them and who they choose to be.
I pleaded with them to respect their own life, their own choices and in so doing understand that as they have the right to choose, so do others. I made it clear that regardless of the desires of those, who honestly DO think they have our best interests at heart, that they are here to decide for themselves. I told him that life is…in every moment a choice. And it is through the choices we make; it is in the way we respond to others, to situations, and events that we decide and discover, define and refine who we are in life.
I told him that they should go out and ‘Grasp Life,’ rush in full on; that there would be times of fear, but fear often meant they are being expanded and to not shy away from the new.
The Diamond – An analogy
I often use this to illustrate what life is when talking to young people. I find messages have more impact if they are
- Relateable and
- Create a vision
My diamond analogy goes like this:
Have you ever seen a diamond when it has just been extracted from the earth?
Well, it’s cloudy and of course dirty. There’s a lack of uniformity to its shape.
Something like this.
I explained that our expectations of the bright, shiny, faceted stones we have come to expect are as a result of ABRASION… the outcome of being chipped & chiselled, buffed & polished; that this abrasion takes time, but in the end we see the treasure.
I explained that in life, they would experience abrasion, they would be buffed and polished, chipped and chiselled, but that this would be necessary if they are to show the glistening, priceless gem of who they are which lies underneath. They got it! I hope you do too.
The great wrestle
It is those situations which invoke fear, the ones they will have to wrestle with, the ones, which will make them feel they ‘Can’t’ which are the very ones which will ‘smooth them out.’ And they should always remember that they absolutely ‘CAN!’ if they believe it.
I made it quite clear that your ‘soul mate’ is one who challenges you and forces you to grow, to expand in the choices and decisions you are (sometimes forced) to make because they cause you to touch your ‘soul’ and decide who and what you are from a deep, albeit sometimes painful place.
It’s all worth it in the end
I clarified that life wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but if they remembered what I said and applied it, I guaranteed it would be worth it!
Life is a schoolroom.
We came to learn…
We come to make choices and
We come to create both ourselves as beings and the lives we choose.
Challenges, apologies and gifts…oh and a little fun!
I challenged them to take chances and as long as they did not cause pain, injury or upset to others, as long as they could ‘check in’ with themselves and know that what they were doing, in answer to the question and who they were being, was adding something positive to the world they would be doing just fine.
I told them all they need be is themselves, make no apology for who they are and what they need and…
I told them they/we ALL have a gift, a gift to contribute to the world and their duty was to go out and discover what it was, that it may not bring fame or recognition, but it would undoubtedly bring happiness and to…
Bloody well have fun doing it!
I reminded them, that It’s fun and the joy it brings which is the compass that tells us we’re on exactly the right road…heading in exactly the right direction
Was it good for you too?
I could have said much more perhaps…but for now I hope today’s post creates many ‘Ah-ha’ moments.
If this resonates, then could you do me a favour. Why not share it with a young person you know. They are excellent pretenders at age 15-20, but be assured many of them are unsure of their next step. It is our duty to prepare them, to be honest with them, to encourage them and to love them.
If this post articulates what you would like to say to your child, niece, nephew, grandchild, god-child, cousin, friend or neighbour then share it with them. Give them the gift of their own life…
Blissings and much love