Humans are an unadventurous lot. We act like we are brave and daring. We aspire and wonder at stories of courage. But very rarely do any of us do anything that amounts to anything of real courage. There are notable exceptions, of course: people who have discovered, pioneered, set new standards… the list could go on. I would even say that almost everyone will have multiple experiences throughout their life when they will, knowingly or not, exhibit true courage. But aside from those instances, few and far in between, we sit back and live life as we have been taught.
“As we’ve been taught.” That becomes a huge concept then; because in actuality, true life is probably filled with much more courage and adventure than the life that most people live. Rather of stepping out into a life filled with courage, most of us settle for living as we have observed in the world, seen modeled in our homes, or been taught by others instead. Perhaps this is why we connect so vividly with adventure as portrayed in story. But I digress.
Back to the idea that we live “as we’ve been taught.” We learn most rapidly when we are young. It is at this age that a host of experiences teach us. A child sees a strange object, and is informed by their parent it is a butterfly, that butterflies are gentle and beautiful. Their older sibling teaches them that butterflies can be caught like so, and then released to fly away. The child realizes the object is normal; the object a part of life. Without this lesson, it would have taken outright courage to examine the strange new exhibit. I’m learning that adults aren’t that different.
Take the tweener for instance. This soon-to-be college graduate is facing a whole new world of life. Jobs, finances, housing, relationships… all are crashing down on them. Take a senior in High School: College choice, declaring a major, deciding a career… it is a learning field all over again.
The problem is, most young people lack a relationship with an appropriately mature adult to teach them in this new phase. The tweener, confused about how to find, apply, and choose a career needs someone to tell them “these emotions and choices you have are hard! And you know what? This experience is normal; this experience is a part of life.
Just like a child learns about a butterfly, teens and tweens (and adults too) need to continually be taught “this object, this stage, this experience… it’s a part of life.” When a more mature person is there to define, exhibit, and teach about the unknown, experiencing that force becomes so much simpler to our uncourageous humanity.
I am sure this idea is nothing original; however it is something I am fully realizing for the first time. I am challenging myself to face these transitional unknowns in life with more courage so that I do not look back at myself and realize I backed down from what I now recognize as a “butterfly.” But I am also challenging myself to include mentors and parents (novel idea) in my life processes as well. Their insight and lessons can make the unknown a whole lot friendlier.