The disconnect between adults and kids

One of my biggest fears is that one day far in the future, my kids will be crying themselves to sleep at night and I will have no idea. It just seems to be such a common feeling these days – kids grow up thinking that they have no real support and that no one really understands what they are going through. We act as if there has to be some huge disconnect between adults and kids and I think that this divide is proving itself to be extremely emotionally draining.

In my generation, people are becoming much more open with who they really are. The LGBTQ community is growing each and every day as people come out, finally deciding to be true to themselves. Kids are getting into serious relationships at younger ages; it’s as if we have this instinctual urge to grow up quicker and experience real love earlier. We can’t help it though, that’s just how we are.

Adults, specifically parents, are in a very special place. They have the ability to build up a child’s self esteem or completely tear it down. They have the choice to emotionally support their child, which sadly, some parents refuse to do. Which is partly what has created this gap between kids and parents. There are certain choices that parents don’t have the right to decide – such as if your child is gay, or transgender, or if they want to date someone of a different race or a different religion or financial class or if they just want to date someone in general. No parent has the right to choose who their child falls in love with.

By the age of 18, we have a pretty good idea of what we like and what we don’t like. We know which foods make us sick and we know which school subjects we like the most. We also sort of know what career path we would like to take and what sort of people we want to surround ourselves with on our journey there. Most of us have picked a learning institution that we hope will carry us to success and many of us have had to figure out a plan to pay for it. We are considered to be adults, yet we are still treated as young children. This also adds to the divide between us.

There is such a simple solution to this problem though, and it amazes me that this isn’t universal knowledge. We both need to support each other. Parents should lift their kids up when they are down – no child should have to cry themselves to sleep feeling as though they cannot talk to the two people sleeping in the room next door. If your child comes out as gay, you should be thrilled that they had the bravery to do so in front of you, because it is a huge act of courage. If your child is in love with someone, you should wholeheartedly support that relationship. As long as no harm is coming to either party… there is no reason to separate them. From a kid’s perspective, it is so hard to live your life without support. Feeling alone while making decisions is so ridiculously stressful. We need help from those older than us, even though we will deny it to our grave. Just as those older need help from us, and we will be there to give them that.

We need to push to close the divide between us. It’s time for both sides to come together and to realize that there is no reason to not support each other. We both feel the same things – it’s time we respect that.

20 things I will do

I had a teacher last year who forced us to write 20 things we will do in our lifetime. Looking back, it was one of the best assignments I had ever completed. It was a list that made you really think about what you aspire to be and what you truly want out of the life you were given. I still have the sheet of paper that I wrote my list on – it hangs above my desk so I can read it each and every day. It is my inspiration to keep going; because of that, I decided to share my list with you. Here it is:

1. Ride an elephant

2. Eat a meal that I don’t think I would usually try, such as escargot.

3. Swim with sea turtles (COMPLETED!)

4. Study abroad

5. Be able to say “I made it – I’m accomplished.”

6. Change someone’s perspective

7. Have a son and name him Luke

8. Have a daughter and teach her what it is like to always love

9. Get a tattoo

10. Visit every continent, including Antarctica

11. Write a short story

12. Learn how to dance

13. Win an award

14. Fall in love with a man and have a ridiculously happy wedding

15. Have a chalkboard wall in my house and cover it with quotes that I love

16. Give my time to those less fortunate than I

17. Have a conversation with someone who is homeless; make them laugh

18. Go on a spontaneous trip with someone I love

19. Make enough money to take my Dad on a trip with me

20. Find a way to prove to him that I love him, and make him proud of me.

21. Adopt a dog from the humane society (multiple dogs are okay too)

22. Buy my mom and stepdad a very expensive bottle of wine, then sit down and drink the entire thing with them

I know I had a couple more than 20, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a lot of goals! I encourage you all to write your own lists, and if you do, send me the link! I would love to read them. This truly is one of the best ways to really reflect and get to know yourself a little bit better.
  

What inspires me to write

What inspires me to write?

Everyone comes with a story. Some people like to say they carry a lot of baggage, while others say that they travel light. Personally, the amount of luggage I claim depends on where I am going. Either way, I promise I will have a story to tell you.

I often write about other people, and how they relate to me. I find it to be quite easy to share other people’s stories. I like to show other perspectives to encourage my readers to have open minds, and through that, you can learn my own personal thoughts. I, however, have yet to write a post strictly about myself, and so I thought that today would be a good day to share a piece of me with you.

At least once a week, I am asked what inspires me to write. I don’t think people understand how complex this question is. I could go on for hours naming all the different parts of my life that have inspired me to become a writer; there are so many unique experiences I have had that have convinced me to spend my life telling stories. For you though, I will keep it somewhat short.

So what inspires me?

One: The incredible stories of other people. One of my favorite things to see is someone’s face light up as they talk to me about something they are extremely passionate about. It’s my passion to share theirs with all of you. I like to serve as a middleman, taking in the excitement and distributing it all over the world. (Yes, I see you my international readers – thank you).

Two: My beautiful family, amazing friends and my too-good-to-me boyfriend. Without them, I don’t know if I would be going into journalism. Although I am the first one to make a career out of something non-business related, they do appreciate my work and support me with every decision I make, such as moving to Chicago. I will always have to thank my family for encouraging my writing, my friends for taking the time to share it with others and my boyfriend for working with me through a long distance relationship and giving me plenty of topics to write about.

Three: Emotion. As stated in one of my previous posts, I am an extremely emotional person. Those feelings are what drive my words and they are where my power comes from. With every sentence I construct, I do it with some sort of emotion, whether it be with anger, happiness, sadness or any other. There would be no thrill to writing if my mind was not wired to react at the littlest of things.

There are so many more inspirations for me, such as role models like Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams (pre-scandal). I did say that I would keep it short, and I keep my word.

If you’d like, comment below what inspires you to do what you do. I would love to hear your stories; as stated, other people’s passion is my number one inspiration.

CHALLENGE DAY

This post is beyond overdue, but I have to share this day with you all. Last week I had the incredible opportunity to experience a day called “Challenge Day.” It involved 100 people: a mix of students and teachers at my school, and activities that brought out every emotion. The overall goal was to prove that everyone is going through something and so we should not be too quick to judge. I can tell you that it achieved that and so much more. So, let me explain why this day was so incredible.

It started out extremely awkward. The leaders of the day were trying to pump everyone up and get them excited, which is very hard to do with an apathetic group of 80 high school students. We were paired up with multiple different people and told to express certain parts of our life in order to wean us to a more comfortable mood. From there, everything exploded into a whirlwind of emotions.

The leaders started by sharing their stories; what made them who they are today. They shared the negative things in their life with all of us, showing that no matter what you go through, you can come out strong. They showed us that sharing your story is a sign of courage, not weakness. So after that, we all had a chance to share our stories.

That’s really where the tears started.

As we went around in small groups and shared our stories of how we became who we are today, it was obvious that people were beginning to become more comfortable with each other. People stopped judging their peers on how they looked or how they talked for a little bit. Everyone, for once, just listened. It was heartbreaking to hear how much people have gone through, but it was also refreshing to be able to share what has happened to you.

I had never seen a group of people connect like we all did that day. As I cried, girls and guys I had never seen before were putting their arms around me telling me that it was going to be okay, and I did the same for them. Teachers were beginning to understand how hard some students have it, and students were learning that some teachers have it just as bad.

We gradually began to understand each other and accept that although we are all different, there is no reason why we cannot help each other. I heard stories that made me want to go and take on the world and I heard some that made me want to fall to the ground and sob. I wanted to help each and every person in that room, and I wanted to help myself as well.

This day was so inspiring to me and made me a little bit more aware of who I am walking next to in the hallways. It led me to take on this piece of advice: no matter what he or she looks like or how he or she previously acted, if they are hurting, you are capable of helping them.

I took this advice to heart. I have seen one to many friends harm themselves or end their lives because they felt as though no one was there for them. I realized that I have all the capability in the world to help those people around me and to make them feel as though they are not alone. Even if no other person on this earth wants to even look at them, I am able to make sure they know that I will be there. That’s what “Challenge Day” did for me – it put me up to the challenge to help all those that are hurting. So that is exactly what I plan to do, and that is what I hope others will do for me.

challenge day

Troo Kidd Pan

Story time! I have had quite a few major events occur in the past couple of days. However, if you know the slightest bit about me, you’d know that great events lead to great stories to share. So that is what I’m doing today, giving you a piece of what I have been able to experience.

So to begin, let me tell you about this girl I recently befriended.

To me, her name is Troo, because that is how she introduced herself. Troo Kidd Pan. The first conversation was exhilarating; I had never spoken to someone filled with so much excitement. She was like a bottle of champagne, waiting to burst into happy bubbles. She is spontaneous – she’s one of those girls that refuses to let silences occur. She fills empty space with irrelevant words that lead to hour long conversations.

I should probably explain how this Troo girl and I met. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was accepted into DePaul University – my dream school. A group chat flared up and quite a few people were swallowed by the flames. Two of those people were Troo and I. We have been talking constantly for weeks now. It’s incredible how close two people can become in that short amount of time.

You see, Troo lives a lifestyle much different than mine. For one, she is dating a girl who is deployed halfway around the world. They hardly get to talk, and she’s in love with her. Second, she has an autistic little brother. She was forced to grow up much more quickly than I in order to help take care of her family. She had to push her own emotions inside and throw herself out into the real world.

Troo stands for “trooper”. I cannot think of a better name for this girl. In the past few weeks, I have been taught that distance does not mean a thing – love can exist over oceans and mountains if you have faith in it. I have seen her strengths and weaknesses, I have supported her through a break down and I have committed myself to at least four years of true friendship.

I find it quite humorous that we have become so close without meeting each other – it’s interesting how face to face contact does not mean as much as it used to. Troo knows that much more than I though, because her superwoman and her can only talk via the internet. I love learning more and more about their relationship – it is definitely one that requires trust and strength.

This girl is going to go far one day, because at 17 years old she has life experiences that some 40 year olds don’t. I can’t wait to become better friends and to learn from her because Troo Kidd Pan has so much to share.

The new generation

I live in a very populated area. To give you an idea, my high school has almost 7,000 students, there are five middle schools that feed into it, and ten elementary schools. As you can see, that’s quite a bit of kids. With this many people, I’ve noticed that it is easy to see the differences from generation to generation. My focus for this post will be on current middle school students.

I have a younger brother in eighth grade. He is your average sort-of teenage boy: he has a large group of friends, he is starting to have those awkward “I like you,” talks with girls, and he likes to spend his time playing sports or long boarding outside. Although that all sounds fairly normal, I can still very easily spot the difference between his generation and mine.

First off, the technology. My oh my do they have much more that I did. His friends and him are constantly on their phones, they are all connected through social media, and they never once had to deal with phones without a touch screen. I know what you’re thinking – technology is a great thing. I completely agree with you, considering I’m sitting in a coffee shop on my Macbook typing this right now. However, with this technology young kids have constant access to the internet – which is not always a good thing. I hear kids use more foul language than I do at the ages of eleven and twelve. They see pictures and videos of things I didn’t even know about at their age. They are being influenced by entities that were never available to me at that age.

With those influences, I have heard so many awful stories of middle school students getting involved with drugs and alcohol. I remember middle school vividly and having no idea what drugs were. When I was with my friends, the thought of stealing my parents liquor never crossed my mind. I knew that those things were not acceptable and I knew that they weren’t going to lead me down a successful path in life. I was fully aware that those substances were not good for me physically and that they would have horrible effects on my life in the long run.

I do have to admit that young kids have a lot more pressure on them than I did at their age. I see girls with full face makeup on in sixth grade – I don’t remember owning a bottle of foundation until late into my freshman year of high school. Girls are wearing short shorts and crop tops, looking skimpy as ever, and I have to wonder how parents are allowing this to happen. Even today, if I walked downstairs with a shirt that hardly covered my chest I know that my mother would spin me around and send me right back up to change. I don’t think I will ever understand who an eleven year old girl is dressing like that for – and if it’s for the same reason girls my age are doing it, then we have a much more serious problem on our hands.

With this new generation, we have to be more cautious than ever. It is up to us to be role models for these kids. We must pave the paths of right and wrong and lead them down the correct one. Parents need be sure that their kids are not being influenced negatively by technology and they need to be aware of current trends in society. Older brothers and sisters need to take responsibility and teach their siblings to learn from their mistakes or their peers. We must learn to adapt and to grow positively from this change.

“OMG you are like, soooooo pretty!”

Every girl wants to be beautiful. They want to be confident in their own skin. They want to be noticed for how pretty they are. I don’t blame them, who wants to be known as the ugly girl? I take the time to curl my hair and put make up on and wear clothes that are “cute” in today’s society too. I’m just like any other girl. But I think about it much more than the average girl. With that extra thinking, I’ve come to a single conclusion.

Beauty is subjective.

I could go around and interview a random sample of people and ask what they considered beautiful and I can guarantee you all of their answers would differ. (Maybe that should be another book idea…)

The definition of beauty changes between ethnicities; it changes between regions; it changes between genders. There are so many factors going into beauty that it is absolutely impossible to label one specific set of traits as ultimate beauty.

There’s also the classic debate between physical and mental beauty. Hey, it’s what’s on the inside that really matters, right? This may be true, but we cannot deny that our first judgements occur the first second our eyes pass over someone. In that split second, our mind makes the decision for us to introduce ourselves or to be weary of interaction.

Girls commonly complement each other – if you know the person, you are simply required to tell them that they are pretty. (This is commonly seen on Instagram, the common ground of the classic selfie.) So therefore, is beauty dependent on friendship?

Like I said, there are too many different factors to determine ultimate beauty. However, this does not mean that we should not use comparisons. For example, why are girls starving themselves to look skinny when Kim Kardashian is getting unbelievable attention for her beauty? Especially with her recent (scandalous, I must say) photo shoot, I cannot see why a girl would want to put herself through the pain of hunger to take away curvy features.

But as I previously stated, beauty is subjective. So maybe we should stop striving to be something we are not, and find the gold in ourselves.