Monday, October 26, 2015

Just a Phase

This one time, the youth group volunteered with an event they volunteer with every year.  (It's not really important which event.)  The number of volunteers to tasks was out of balance, in that when I arrived, they were awaiting a fresh batch of stuff to get started again but it was clear as more volunteers, but not as much stuff arrived that even when it did, there was going to be a balance issue.  I had suggested to one of the teens from our group perhaps they could help with one task, and she said that people had not been very open to their assistance, and so she was feeling particularly seventeen that day. 
Now, I have worked with this teen for a while, so I did know that this was not an excuse but a genuine response to that thing that happens when you know you have suggestions or input that could be useful if people would only listen.  (Sadly, this does not end when one's age no longer ends in teen.  But it does get better.) But it speaks to an interesting thing about our views of teens.  Absolutely, in our society, teens are in a particular phase where they explore all sorts of things, they are given more responsibility (um, well, sometimes) and yet are still treated as children.  It's a weird, awesome, scary, fascinating time.
But, the reality is, that, hopefully, a lot of this experimentation stuff continues on.  The list of things I have started (or re-started) doing since I was a teen include knitting, weaving (since abandoned), blogging, social networking, and pet owning. No one told me these things I was trying out were just a phase because of my age.  It's possible people were thinking that, and just didn't tell me.  No one also told me when I gave up weaving or car owning that, pfft, they knew I hadn't been committed.  (I have had some people worry about my lack of car-ness, they all seem relieved to know I have owned, but chose to give it up.  And have car-sharing membership.  But that's probably a whole other post.)
I told one person who said her choice to go vegan was being touted as just a phase to tell people, "So what?"  Because, seriously, even if it is/was just a phase, she wasn't demanding people cook special things for her, she was simply choosing not to eat certain things, and taking steps to make sure she got a balanced diet.  So, if after a time she came to the conclusion that this was not her her, so what.  When a co-worker decides to go on [insert name of current trendy diet here], people usually applaud.  And look, if people's concerns had been for this teen's health or this teen's food preparer's sanity, then that's one thing, but they were discounting her because of her age.  And that's ridiculous. 
Phases, one hopes, continue to happen throughout life.  And while sure, I could think of more things I tried in my youth, discounting people's commitment to such solely based on the age they start, is unneccessarily belittling.  So let's stop that.