Of Teenagerness

Sometimes I think that our job at Hyde is to help our students learn to realize, accept, and transcend the fundamental condition of their “teenagerness.” (If that’s not a word, it should be.) What would that be?  In one word: Self-Absorption.

In my experience, this transcendence cannot occur without an acknowledgement of the simple fact that life is neither easy nor fair. Here are three of my “go-tos” in the never-ending quest to get this across:

1. Scott Peck (1936-2005) opens his 1978 book The Road Less Traveled with this statement:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

2. If Peck is too heavy for you, consider what Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) once said to a whining granddaughter:

“Your problem, my dear, is that you do not accept that life is difficult.  If you would simply accept that it is difficult, it would be so much easier for you.” As Brandeis intimated, the tendency to hold onto the hope that life could be easy only makes it harder.

3. Consider what humor writer P. J. O’Rourke had to say when his daughter offered up that universal teenage complaint – “Life’s not fair.” He replied,

“You’re cute. That’s not fair.
You’re smart—that’s not fair.
Your family’s well off—that’s not fair.
You were born in the U.S.—that’s not fair.
Darling, you better get down on your knees and pray that things don’t start getting fair for you.”

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld