I have just completed another session with AMAZING youth! Hooray to another year of learning, then sharing better ways of communicating and just “being” with these brilliant minds and loving hearts.
This session began differently than the previous years presenting motivational workshops for youth, with a classroom full of silent, suppressed souls. Where, in the past, youth shared feelings and experiences from the start, this year forced some creative adjustment on my part to give the youth time to feel safe and to trust me enough to share what was essentially the good, and the bad in their lives. They explored their lives, first exposing truths causing feelings of humiliation, insult, disregard, hypocrisy, mainly due to adults’ undying need to judge and even to shame. After some laughter and learning, the youth were confident to fill out their “I AM NOT!” puzzles, the pieces representing what they would scream to the world if they had a chance. They were able to expose hateful “nick names” given to them through the years – “I AM NOT STUPID!” as many wrote; “I AM NOT UNGRATEFUL!” as many wrote, leading to “I AM NOT MYSELF ANYMORE!” All the youth filled in their puzzles, for the first time collecting on one page descriptive words they wanted discarded from their lives.
It is at this time I scream out to the kids – “You ARE YOU! You ARE all you need to be!” and the youth create their “I AM….” puzzle, a process of joy and awakening as this critical piece of life, that builds and sustains the balance of mind, body and spirit, is not generally acknowledged.
To bring these emotions together, the youth answered two questions –1) Adults I need you to stop, and 2) Adults I need you to start
Not surprising, all the sheets were filled out, with a sense of vindication, and their boldest statement – “LOVE OURSELVES NO MATTER WHAT.”
Adults, what I learned from listening to these beautiful beings – “stop judging and assuming and start listening to us more”; “stop yelling all the time and start treating me like a person.”
I believe a good conclusion is – “START LOVING US NO MATTER WHAT”