“How do I do that?” It’s a question that, as a parent and sometimes as a teacher, I learned to listen for. It usually came from one of our three children as they reached some place in growing up and living where they faced a task that they had never done before. It often meant going into places, relationships and activities that were completely unknown. It was almost always scary.
Imagine those circumstances in your life for a moment. You face going to a place you’ve never been before. You must involve yourself with people you do not know at all. You must engage in or learn to engage in activities that you have no experience with. I suspect those prospects leave most people feeling like it does me: just a little (a lot) afraid.
Children, teens and young adults face new buildings, new adult faces, voices and messages. They face hundreds, sometimes thousands of new peer faces. They must find a way to make new friends, figure out new computer equipment and programs, learn the culture of a school, and decode words, phrases and facial expressions that are all new to them. And that’s all possible just in kindergarten. Later, it’s how to drive a car, get a job, work a job, navigate angry or hurting friends, decide which college, if any, to apply for. Perhaps none of these (or any of these) is as overwhelming as discerning what new feelings in their bodies and minds are all about as they grow up.
How do I do this? The question itself is a daunting one. It indicates that I’m lost. It also indicates that I want to find a way forward, try something new, add to my skill set, and find my way–at least the next few steps.
So, when we hear these words, or anything that represents them, welcome them. A courageous soul has stepped forward and is asking you for some encouragement on the way.