“Now, I’m not gonna tell you that… everyone who has a tough time as a kid ends up at Carnegie Hall, but the idea that those years have to be the best of your life is just ridiculous.” Months ago, I was shaken by those words from John Green’s video, “On Middle School Misery.” Due to the success of his novel The Fault in Our Stars, he has become a household name among many. When thinking up a topic for this, my foremost column for The Spectator, something within the recesses of my brain settled upon this perception.
If you attend Batavia High School, chances are you are a kid. You may feel like an adult, but if you are less than 18-years-old, then you are one who is still in the early stages of your exposure to the world. That is a hard place in your life, especially when you’re in middle or high school. Having just arrived as a ninth grader at BHS, it can be intimidating. A feeble existence, it seems, going to and fro in a building crammed with people who wish they had never been born, getting schoolwork, homework, and responsibilities crammed down your throat until you want to collapse into a heap of charred matter. The attitude of wishing you had never been born spreads, making schools and any place where young people congregate breeding grounds for indifference, depression, and violence. Where is there room for compassion in places so filled with self-defeat?
These difficult times will pass. But as Green quotes the poet Robert Frost, “‘The only way out is through.’”
Adulthood can be and often is better. In the vein of this theme, I e-mailed my English teacher, Mr. Demos, with some interview questions. He responded with this: “I was a lot more oblivious as a child. Our worlds are so small and self-centered when we’re young. As our experiences compound with age, our perceptions definitely grow and grow.”
What do you do when life is pressing in on you and you can’t even seek solutions? You acknowledge. Acknowledge that this is a screwed-up time in your life and that your existence will get better whether you do anything or not, that there’s nothing you can do but just focus on being responsible, not wasting yourself away by spending time with friends that are not handling their emotions responsibly either. You acknowledge that, regardless of unintelligible cultural norms, there is no reason that childhood has to be the best time of your life; that you may not be able to make it so, but you can pull through with a smile on your face that beats the ignorance you felt out of all others until a time when you can get to ¨second base¨ in your life. Until then, you have to stop running away from your life and look it straight in the eye.
“The best thing [about being an adult] is that it is okay to be lame, ¨ Mr. Demos said. It will get better, but don’t sit on your hands in the interim. Don’t lose your vitality.