When out and about, sometimes I have a tendency to listen in on people's conversations as they walk past. As I walk in the mall one day with my friends, I see two guys with their saggy pants and headphones approaching me. One is obviously upset and cussing up a storm. As he walks by, I hear him say is, "My mom is so dumb. She treats me like I'm five years old!" I chuckle at this. Is being young really so bad?
Most of the time, teenagers fail to realize how relaxing being young is when compared with the responsibilities of the real world. All you teens out there, take a quick inventory of the things you have. How much of that stuff is really yours -- as in you bought it with your money? In my life, that adds up to about five shirts, two pairs of shoes, and about 20 packs of gum. As an adult, you have to pay for literally everything. First, you have to be able to pay for a place to live, then -- usually -- for a car to get around, a cellphone to be able to communicate, insurance for your home, car, health, life, etc... It gets pretty overwhelming. Plus, imagine having children and having to pay for all this. Honestly, I'd rather be treated like a five year old and color pictures all day than have to deal with the constant overarching anxiety of work, family, and finances.
And not only do young kids have a leg up on adults in the overwhelming responsibilities department (i.e., they have none), I've also found that really young children have a unique and useful state of mind much of the time: they use simple logic to put life into perspective. For instance, I had an ex-boyfriend a while back who, despite having broken up with me, continued to want to talk to me once it was over. Trying to be nice, I continued to talk to him even though all he spent his time doing was trying to persuade me to get back together with him. To put it simply, it annoyed me to death. One day I was on another desperate phone call with him when my four-year-old brother, Simon, walked in. "Charissa, who are you talking to?" he asked. I told him it was my ex, to which he said, "Why? I thought he was mean to you. You really shouldn't be friends with mean people." I sat there, dazed. He was right. My-four-year old brother was actually right about a problem.
Herein lies the problem with many teens today. We try to make things more complicated than they have to be. Yes, not all problems will be as simple as choosing not to talk to someone bothersome. However, many issues could easily be solved without much thought at all. If I asked a group of you other teens out there to write your five favorite things down on a piece of paper, many of you would write and erase your choices many times before just giving up, handing me the paper with five random answers listed, and then giving me a hard time about having to write it in the first place. Simon, on the other hand, would just say "OK." And most likely write "God, my family, soccer practice, my teacher, and my pets." What a life.
I often find truth in the quote, "All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten." I still follow "be a good listener" and "keep your hands to yourself" (most of the time!). I still follow "treat others the way you want to be treated." But I think the one we most often forget is one not written on the chalkboard: "Follow your heart." With all the hype about looking good, fitting in, and being the best at everything that we encounter as teenagers, this rule could often come in handy, especially when we like to think that every tiny thing we have to face is life-changing. Really, I think we could just ask one question much of the time: "What would the four-year-old in me say?"