When I was in high school, I had a lot of pride for my poems. While I was afraid to share any of them until the end of my grade school education, I still had a lot of pride in them. It’s funny looking back and seeing just how young I sound.
There is something unique about my work, though. This uncommon element would eventually lead me to a state speech contest my senior year. My poems didn’t just complain. As I’ve said before, they were my way of understanding the world. While this piece opens sounding very stereotypical, it reaches an end rare for a teenager to realize.
This poem was written on August 17th, 2004. I was a freshman in high school and was 14-years old.
I am here
I stand before you
Unwilling and unwanting
Saddened and confused
I am stronger than you think
I’m responsible and proud
I have honor and I have grace
I have power to say no to you
All you teachers and parents and elders so much older than I
You know nothing
I am here
I care enough to stand here
I realize that what you went through
When you were my age
Same only in your world
I can never explain and you
can never understand
Twenty years from now
kids will say the same
And I will be the one in your place
Forgetting all this
As soon as came to the line about teachers and parents, I felt a little wary to throw this up here. Like I said above, I come to an abrupt conclusion that I think proves I was a bit wise beyond my years. I knew there were a lot of elements in my life that my parents never had to deal with. The internet, cell phones and ability for college to lead me to a career were all differences between my youth and theirs. My parents, like many, were prone to rolling their eyes and telling me they went through the same thing when I expressed stereotypical teenage woes.
In those last few lines, I reach a conclusion of understanding. While I was frequently frustrated with adults in my life, I understood their position. I understood that it was hard for them to look at me or their world differently. After all, a lot of what I complained about had similarities to their high school experiences.
Maybe I’m still young to think this, but I really want to hold on to the ideas expressed in this poem. I hope, if I choose to have children in the future, I recognize the differences between my child’s high school experience and my own. Just because a solution would have worked for me in my day does not mean it will work for them. Still, as I say in this poem, the more likely scenario is that I will forget how different the high school experience can be between generations.
What was different between your high school experience and the experiences of your parents? Did they try to tell you they knew exactly what you were going through as a teenager and did you believe them? Why do you think some teenagers find it frustrating when adults in their life try to convince them things were the same in when they were that age? Do you recognize the differences between your high school experience and the experiences of today’s teenagers?