When I was little I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted to change the world with my ideas. I wanted to stop pollution. I wanted to end world hunger and fix global warming. I thought that if everyone could just put their minds together, these would just be obstacles we could overcome. I couldn’t wrap my head around the depth of these challenges and I hadn’t quite realized that, individually, I was a tiny speck of dust in the universe compared to the problems I was hearing about. This is why children are such imaginative problem solvers- they are confident; they aren’t full of doubt; they haven’t experienced years of failed tests, missing homework, and disappointed parents. They are made up of wonder, love, and hope that hasn’t been taken from them yet.
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“You’re just a kid.”
Every comment that diminishes a child’s contributions limits their ability to believe they are capable to the point that they start believing they can’t do anything of significance.
I am thirteen. Recently, I was asked how old I was by a person I was playing cards with. When I responded with my real age the person looked astonished and walked away. He didn’t talk to me for the rest of the night. I know that there are many ways to interpret that but one thing was clear – that I was too young. How can I not wish to be older when there are people every day reminding me I’m just a kid?
Childhood: The early period in the development of something.
Mature: Having reached the most advanced stage in a process.
These concepts are completely opposite, yet somehow I am expected to inhabit both. I am told that I am just a child; that I can’t change the world yet. Yet while everyone is busy telling me I’m a child, they also want me to live up to their absurd expectations of maturity and awareness. This is an impossible task! I can’t believe I can do something of significance if everyone is telling me I am incapable of it. You can’t crush my dreams while simultaneously expecting me to change the world with my ideas.
Adults act as if there is an invisible barrier between childhood and adulthood. It seems as if they expect a switch to be flipped on my eighteenth birthday. As if after years of negative remarks and little to no encouragement I can be confident enough to believe I can create change. Suddenly, you expect me to make a difference....but you can’t expect the very people you ridiculed to save you.
After years of unrealistic expectations, hundreds of useless homework assignments, countless standardized tests, and negative comments, I have had enough. If you hold me to the same standards as adults you have to give me the same respect in return. The world is in ruins and it’s the job of my generation to fix it. So before you see us as just kids remember that we are the future. We can and will do great things.