Dealing with high schoolers every day, I find that they often have something in common…
It is a drive, a yearning…
A hope to find themselves.
It’s hard to truly find yourself in high school. Your world is still confined to a small group of other teenagers, and a handful of teachers.
After leaving high school, most teenagers will eagerly head off to college, to continue their quest for self. They will no longer be chained by parents or a dusty old hometown.
I remember that quest. I remember how many of my peers changed their outward appearance over a summer, or moved to a new town, or did something else in an effort to define themselves.
The thing is, the problems we had back home often find us in a new town.
And changing our outward appearance doesn’t make us feel much differently.
The key to finding ourselves, I have found, is as Socrates told us…
To find ourselves, we have to think for ourselves.
Think about any great quest we read in a novel or watch in a movie. The character may face outward hazards. He may have nearly insurmountable odds. But oftentimes, the greatest triumph is actually in himself.
There is a lot of pressure to never find ourselves, because there are forces in our world to persuade us not to think for ourselves.
We tell our kids about peer pressure. We want them to be independent. But then, we adults do the same thing.
We collectively foam at the mouth for a politician’s promises. We willingly let ourselves be duped by advertisements. We follow gurus and guides for every decision we have to make. We buy into a version of “The American Dream” that doesn’t really work because it never makes us happy.
Adults, if we are going to set an example for our children, we have to think for ourselves. We have to be willing to go against the grain.
We have to be willing to step out of the boat.
Or even live out of step with our culture.
We don’t have to move to a new city. We don’t even have to get a tattoo or dye our hair.
We just have to start by thinking, and the rest will follow.