Monday, December 27, 2004

Don’t underestimate our youngsters

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Sunday, December 26, 2004 10:11 PM

So often we underestimate our youngsters. We see them as immature, light-headed kids who are interested only in music, movies and hanging out with their friends.

We seem to have made up our minds about them. Perhaps it is because we don’t spend enough time with them. We don’t have the patience to sit with them and probe their hearts and minds. If we did so, we might get a lot of pleasant surprises. There might be a lot more depth than we ever imagined. We might even find some real gems that are capable of inspiring us to look even more deeply into their being.

I thought about this when I read the short but touching journal of a young girl who just entered our Nazareth Formation House. After her first day here, she was asked to write down her thoughts and feelings. I must share with you what she wrote because it illustrates dramatically just how complex is the mind of teenagers. Complex but deeper than we adults think is possible.

“I am so happy here. It’s about time. I’m not suffocating anymore. I’m slowly breathing right. I need this time away from it all. I needed this so badly.

“I want to bring out my pure self. My reality. No masks, no trying to be something I’m not, just my whole self to give. It will be very hard to find people like me.

“Who will I be going with when I go back? Will things be different? How I long and wish that things change for the better. I want a real life. I want to be happy. I want that weight on my shoulders to disappear. I want that squeezed heart feeling go away.

“God gave me so many talents, I want to share them all! Don’t deprive me of that please!—but that’s what just happened. I was deprived from expressing myself. I am my own personality. Only I can be me. Today I felt so much more free and so much more happy than back home. Thank you for giving me what I need.”

A short journal, but so much substance.

I wonder how many adults could express their feelings the way this young lady did. She’s truly a complicated person who isn’t as easy to understand as one might think.

When the family brought her to Nazareth, they were sure she would be angry and upset with them. Well, they were wrong. There is longing inside her for being in harmony with her life. A desire to understand and come to terms with herself.

Our youngsters are a whole lot more intelligent and insightful than we give them credit for. This young girl is a striking example of this.


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