People have talked about this before, in newspapers and on the internet. We’re disconnected and don’t talk to each other and we rush about and we are out of time all the time. I am a part of this generation. All I really know about is trying to fend for myself without a whole lot of support. When I was in high school, I took care of myself, got a 4.0 GPA the whole time, and made dinners and drove my brother and myself to the places we needed to be. I was the second mom in my family. I did not make lasting friendships and I did not have a mentor and I did not feel supported by any one outside of my immediate family.
To the future and college age, I did not make friends easily. I was too used to taking care of myself. I rarely asked for help from professors and counselors. I thought I was on my own for everything, and I assumed everything would be up to me. Saving the world. Stopping genocide. Maintaining a 4.0. I had to be on top of all of that and I had to do it all myself, and no one reached out to me to say, “Hey. It’s really okay. We’re in this together.”
I hit a pretty low period at the beginning of my junior year of school and near the end of that year I fell apart. Since then I’ve been putting together the pieces that are truly me, and trying to discard what isn’t. It’s been difficult, so difficult. I’m at the point where I’m happy with my friends and generally content most of the time (which I couldn’t have said much in my life before 2010), and I feel like I’m always discovering something that needs to be tweaked to work better in my life. Right now it’s community.
I grew up in the digital world; my community ties are almost all online. The people who have known me the longest are friends in far-off places that I’ve only communicated with via text. They supported me, but they were also lonely and far away. They were all young people without a sense of community in their geographic location.
Becky and I were talking the other day, as we do very often, and mentioned how we wish we had had a mentor growing up. And still wish we had a mentor. Growing up is difficult and lonely, and I never feel like I’m doing the right thing. I feel like I have all this responsibility and none of the words of wisdom. I don’t (and won’t) belong to a major religion, so those community ties are not available for me. So what is? Where do I get someone older and wiser to tell me things are okay? How do I work with people in all stages of life to be an example to me? And I an example to them?
Questions that I’ve been pondering.