Recently, my teenage son was involved in an incident which subsequently required him to have to explain his actions in front of all his teachers and the school principle. This can be a very intimidating experience even for adults. But for a young teenager who – like all teenagers – is insecure and trying to find his place in society, this was a big deal. I had tried to prepare him before hand by letting him know that no matter what, his father and I support him one hundred percent, that we love him unconditionally and that the key to having the best outcome is authenticity. You can talk the talk but if it doesn’t come from the true self, it will make matters worse. It’s best to talk from the heart even with a limited vocabulary than to learn to say the “right things” in a parot-fashion way.
What I had not anticipated was how much I can learn from this beautiful teenager! Not only did he express himself authentically and eloquently but the following characteristics touched me to my core.
It takes courage to own up to mistakes. It takes courage to stand up for oneself. It takes courage to speak the truth. Cowards hide behind others, they hide behind lies or they blame and deflect and there was plenty of that going on in that room that day. But my son had the courage to be the best version of himself even if that wasn’t “good enough” for some in the room. He took responsibility for his actions, courageously named his mistakes and offered an apology.
Wisdom is recognising that we are fallible human beings, reflecting on our errors, forgiving ourselves and striving for a better version of ourselves. Through the eyes of wisdom, challenges become life lessons and an opportunity to grow. This teenager showed more wisdom than I have seen in quite a few adults. He came up with win/ win solutions to solve the issues and shared what he had learnt from this incident. His wise words fell on some deaf ears in the room, but the point of wisdom isn’t to prove anything to anyone apart from oneself.
Many adults judge the world as good and bad/ right and wrong etc. and find the other view-point unacceptable. Younger teenagers seem to accept people/ events/ things as they are. They are coming out of childhood where they did not have much say in anything so acceptance comes to them naturally. It’s only as they get older that this becomes challenging. My teenager has certainly accepted the injustice of it all and moved on. (I’m still working on it!)
Unlike most of us adults, teenagers haven’t quite developed a strong ego yet (although it seems to suddenly appear out of nowhere and then we spend the rest of our lives living through that ego). Without an ego in the way, it is easier to be humble. But of course, not all teenagers have humility. I witnessed in my son the quality of being centred on something higher than the self. His humility was humbling!
I am grateful to my son for these life-lessons and I trust that through these, he has taken one step closer to discovering himself.