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On Growing up (Or, It’s okay to take your time)

May 15, 2010

I think one of the hardest things about being a teacher is going to be constantly dealing with people while they are in the process of growing up.  I hope that I always remember how hard it is to make decisions when you are unsure of yourself, when the opinions of other people seem to matter more than your own, when your body gives you conflicting signals, and when adulthood and escape seem very, very far away.

I remember the institutional feel of the hallways and classrooms of my high school.  That time in your life is a sort of limbo, between being a happy child and a potentially happy adult, and the decisions you make there affect the rest of your life.  It’s a lot of pressure to put on people who are just making real life decisions for the first time.  There are many, many mistakes made, good intentions gone wrong, hopes crushed, lives ruined, on as many different paths as there are people paving them.

Many people in high school want to speed up the process, the transition period between childhood and adulthood, and so they choose to act according to their interpretation of what it means to be “adult.”  For some, it’s as simple as cursing or getting a tattoo or piercing.  Others get involved with relationships and sex.  Still others go for alcohol and drugs.  There are so many people drinking very early in life, having sex very early in life, having multiple partners early in life, that those who do not feel as if they are weird, wrong, inadequate, uncool.

This is from the Big Bang Theory, I LOVE that show!

But I cannot stress this enough:  YOU ARE NOT.

Every person has to make choices according to their own feelings.  Some people feel like having sex and drinking early and often is right for them, and it is their right to explore that option.  BUT IT’S NOT THE ONLY OPTION.  In fact, most of the people who choose that kind of lifestyle would not find satisfaction in it, if they were really honest with themselves.

My point is not that I think abstinence is the way to go.  I think expecting all teenagers to be abstinent is like expecting all teenagers to get straight A’s all the time–it’s unrealistic and unseeing of everyone’s unique personality and circumstance.  Nobody’s perfect.

Michael J Fox from Family Ties, he's this adorable little Republican.

Aaaaaand of course, the "perfect" Zac Effron.

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But I think it is important that people realize that even though on the surface getting around, getting that experience, trying to bridge that oh-so-awkward gap between adolescence and adulthood may feel like the only way to relieve your confusion and stress, YOU HAVE OPTIONS.  The hype of sex is absurdly disproportionate to the reality.

If you would like to have sex early, have it with someone you actually care about, and use protection.  If you don’t feel ready to have sex, that’s okay.  Most people in high school (hell, most people in college too, from my experience) a not ready for it.  Waiting will not make your life any more terrible, and it will not make you an unsatisfying lover when you do decide to have sex.  Most people are really bad at it for a long time before they get any better.

When you do make that decision you are exchanging one kind of stress for another:  the uncertainty of trying to find your adulthood changes to the uncertainty of feelings, heartbreak, pregnancy, even disease.   But when you are ready, you can handle that stress like an adult.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 23, 2010 6:41 pm

    Very grown up, dear. Can we get a summer blog post soon?

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