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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Teenage loneliness: a paradox we cannot understand



Going through the papers I wrote at Georgia Governor's Honors 1986, I came across something I wrote about Westwood (my alma mater and present employer) that has parts that feel like I wrote it this afternoon. Keep in mind, I was going into my senior year and was President of Student Government and National Honor Society and just as type A then as now.  However, I think after reading this, that many of you feel the same way.   It is unedited and may sound more prideful than I would want to sound now, but still, it is how a teenager felt who had a lot of things on her plate.

Don't think for one minute that the students you know don't stress out!  They do!

Penned in July 1986

"Do I want to return
             to a school where
                        I am one of the few leaders?
I love that place.
I seem to be crucial
             but I am not indispensable.
There's so much work to do
             I cannot do it all
                   - I want to "play" too.
             can't they see that?

I just need a little help
            I'm waiting
                 hopefully help will come
               before I cry for it.
       I want to enjoy myself-
            then why is such work enjoyment?
       I'm unhappy without work
            but I don't want to do it myself.
I'm a paradox
                 I cannot understand."

Even then, work is something I loved.  And yet, it was the lonliness that was the hardest part -- feeling alone.

And yet now, I'm at Westwood and I don't feel as alone as then, but still it hits me often.  Teaching, in many ways is a lonely profession because you're in your room most of the day, somewhat disconnected from those your age except when you run into each other at the coffee machine or copy machine!

To me, it is good to hear myself brim over with the stress of being alone and to remember how the kids feel.  It brings it all back.  Yes, I did feel this way.

Look at the students and realize - their stress is real.  Many of the students do feel alone and need encouragement too.  They need to be connected!  This makes me consider how great it would be to connect all the student body presents from around the world and all leaders among teenagers in ways that help them not feel so alone - just as being an edublogger often helps connect you ot others as well.

Just thinking aloud after a conversation with my teenage self.
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