Tao-Te-Chi - Getting Lost In Growing Up Too Fast

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When we look around us in today's society we find a great deal of young people trying to be Adults. We have girls that dress, talk and act like they are 35 by the time most are 15 or so. We have boys that dress all high and mighty trying to pretend they are rich and successful before even done High School. We have so many young people so desperate to "Grow Up" that they totally shatter and squander their childhood.

In our society it is becoming more popular to have people living at home well into their mid-twenties. We find a great deal more stress in people in general than at any other time in modern history. There is a major trend towards needing higher education to even do the most basic of jobs. Not to mention that we have more competition for those same jobs. Yet in the middle of it all we have young people trying to race forward to be a part of this ever increasing hell… why?

The simple answer is that most young people want to have value and be respected. We as a society have a major tendency to look down at our young and label them as "less than". To further complicate matters we have these same young people see people being respected in TV shows and movies. As a result they get into their highly impressionable heads that Adults have respect.

Ask any Adult that does not make a six figure or more income and they will all tell you the same thing, as Rodney Dangerfield always said, "I get no Respect!" This opens the doors to some very major disappointments in life. As well as destroying entire generations of young peoples hopes and dreams. All for some basic respect?

Sadly this is really the underlying root of the situation. There is a great deal more to it, which we will explore shortly. However, this is the simple and not so easy reality of it all.

We all have what are known as Biological Imperatives. These are the things in life that we HAVE to have because they are hard wired into our system. These are things like the fact we have to eat and procreate. Fairly simple ones really… if we do not eat we die and if we do not procreate the species dies. The fact that we take this and turn them into excesses in our society does not change the fact they are still Biological Imperatives. It just means we have more garbage to deal with as a result.

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There are other less easy to define Imperatives too; things like the need to belong to a group. We are not meant to be separate in this world, we are meant to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is really why Church, Social Clubs and others are so powerful with regards to our worth and sense of identity. This sense of needing to belong is not as easy to define as eating and as a result can get very complex in our overly complicated society.

This is also one of the leading factors why our young people NEED to have respect. Because of our current complex social natures we believe that "belonging" is only achieved when we are also respected. As a result if we are not respected then we by default do not belong. This adds a major drive within us all to belong; which sadly can lead to a great many other social and mental dysfunctions.

Another factor in all of this is that we have another Imperative to be self supportive. This is another survival based imperative that has changed in modern times. When we lived at a time when food was only what you yourself directly brought to the table, you needed to be self supportive. The group, clan or society was there to help out only when you were there to contribute. If you did not pull your own weight then you would die.

In today's society this simply is not as accurate as it once was. We have social programs, assistance programs, food banks and many others that help us when we are in need. This has then converted the idea that we need to be self supportive into one of being independent. For most of our impressionable young people this means… being and Adult.

So now we not only have a need to belong that is defined as being respected. We also have a need to be independent as well. All getting altered and confused in the minds of our young people and causing all sorts of complications.

Sadly this is not the end of this mess we now call life. To further this all we seem to work hard to keep our young people down. It is almost as if we see them as competition for the resources, jobs and money currently available. As a result we do what we can to make them feel they are not worth anything or are not good enough to do anything; all so that we can keep these most precious things only to ourselves.

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This of course prompts our young people to want them all that much more. In essence making them feel that they now have to have a job, money or other such things in order to fit into our society. Sadly however, even if they have all of these things they still get treated the same… as little kids.

As I hope you can see this is a very confused situation; one that is only going to get worse. Most of it is not their fault however… it is ours as Adults. We, the older and wiser of society are the ones at fault for this. We are the ones who have given them these ideas and done things to reinforce them in our minds.

In truth, as adults, this all starts for most of us as a lie that we tell ourselves… that we are respected. We too have the same drives and desires as our young people; meaning we also want to be accepted, fit in, be respected and all the rest. The difference is that we know we do not have these things and are not likely to get them… so we lie to ourselves. If we can convince ourselves that we have them then we do not need to deal with the reality that we do not.

As a result we totally go out of our way to punish our young people. Not because they are competition for our jobs, money and resources; it is because they are competition for our respect and acceptance. If they somehow manage to get these things when we did not, in our minds at least, it means we failed. Whether it is real or not that we failed really makes no difference… we will happily lie about it to ourselves anyway.

Lets stop for a moment and look at what is to become of these poor unfortunate young people when they finally do become adults…

By the time most reach the age of thirty they feel totally worthless, miserable and devalued. They have had to eat the reality that they are not respected and likely never will be. Most of their hopes, dreams and goals for life if not currently dead, will be shortly. They become bitter, resentful miserable people who pretty much need to hide their pain any way they can. For most this will be drugs, alcohol or sex.

Let us look at the Adults of today and see how their lives compare… what we just showed is what happens currently in the world around us! We do all the same things we have doomed all our current young people to doing. All because we had it happen to us too!

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So now that we see that we are all doomed to this existence we can just quit and go home right? There is really nothing we can do about it, so why even try! After all who am I to change the way the world works?

This self-pity based mind set is why all of it exists in the first place! We are simply too afraid of our own lives to do anything to help others possibly live better ones. We have become so jaded and abused by life we have no desire left to even try. Yet all around us we have a great number of our own children and other young people running as fast as they can to join us!

I don't know about you but I think that is the saddest and most disgusting thing I can imagine happening in the world today. Terrorist Attacks really have nothing on the power of our own self destructive natures. What is worst of all… we really do not even seem to care at all about it! Since this is about helping our young people learn how to avoid these poisons of Adulthood let us get back to it.

Firstly and most importantly, if you look for respect outside of yourself you will be sorely disappointed. True Respect is not something that can ever be given or taken; it can only be earned. It is also important to note that if you can not Respect yourself there is no way in life that you can Respect others. This really is why no one out there can give you honest and true respect; they really do not even like themselves. This is true of most people, even our parents.

This does not mean that there is no way out of this situation. Respect can be built at any age and can be done by anyone willing to do the work. The first and most important part of this is to find things about yourself that you like. Are you funny, witty, creative? Do you like to write, draw, play sports? The more you can uncover things about yourself that make you happy and that you really enjoy doing the more you will like yourself. This does not mean that you have to make money doing them or even make a living at them. You can always play sports after work for FUN. You can even write purely for the joy of writing. The more that we do for ourselves because it makes us feel happy and alive, the easier it is to respect ourselves.

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From this point we then need to work to taking back our own sense of power and identity. If we wait for others to tell us who and what we are we will only get hurt. The trick is to tell ourselves what and who we are. We do not have to define ourselves as "Doctor" or "Master", we can use ideas like "Happy", "Smart" and others. In simple terms we can work to create for ourselves a positive mental self image. When we combine this with putting effort in every day to doing things that make us happy and alive then Self-Respect usually comes flooding in.

Of course to keep that Self-Respect we have to stop letting other people have a say in our lives. We need to have the courage and conviction to make our own decisions. If we let others sucker or pressure us into doing things we do not want to do, then we lose our Self-Respect. It is our life, even when we are only thirteen, and it is our responsibility to maintain it.

This does not mean that we do not have to do what we do not want to do. That is a part of it, however we still have responsibilities. If we have to wash dishes, clean our room or walk the dog then we do not really have the option of saying "No". These are things we have made a commitment to doing; either to our parents or to ourselves.

Remember back when we said we have a need to be self supportive. That has not changed and in truth it is these chores or responsibilities that allow us to build upon that need. If we do not do them then when we do become Adults we can not be self reliant… that is not a pleasant feeling to go through. As a result it is better to do the work, do it to the best of our abilities and even do it totally for our own sense of "Pride in a Job Well Done". Because if we can do that then we get to feel totally self reliant and that is a wonderful feeling.

Of course self reliant does not mean you can do it all on your own and do not need help from time to time. Having the knowledge and worth to be able to ask for help when we need it also feeds another requirement… our connection to others. If we feel we can not ask for help then we also can not be part of the group. That is a fact! Belonging does not create respect, however if we do belong then Help is always available. Only when we don't belong do we lose this special gift that others give us.

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The ability to help someone is a gift beyond measure. It not only gives us a sense of pride by helping them, it also gives us a greater sense of self-worth. If someone does not want to help you it may not be because you do not belong, it may be that they do not have the time currently. It could be that they do not have the ability to help you directly for whatever reason. There is even the possibility that they are simply miserable people and do not want to help anyone.

There is no point worrying about any of that… just go ask someone else for help. You will likely be amazed at how many people will be willing to help if you ask in a proper and respectful manner. In fact most people in that situation will be overjoyed to help you… mainly because they are as respect starved as you are.

So really in order to have a decent and wonderful life there is only a few major things we need to do. We need to do things every day that make us happy and allow us to feel alive. We need to create and maintain a more positive mental self image of ourselves. We need to learn how to be in control of our own lives; mostly by ensuring we do not get suckered into doing things we do not want to do. From there we get to undertake our personal responsibilities and do what we need to do every day… even if we may not like to do them. At which point hopefully we can take some pride in doing all these things. Then we simply have to remember that we can always ask for help when we need it. We are never truly on our own… someone will usually be there to help if we only take the time to ask.

Most importantly of all… we need to realize we are not separate and alone in this life. We are part of our community and even though we may not be recognized by everyone, we are still a part of it. We are all part of a greater mechanism and each person has a part to play… no matter how small.

Copyright April 2005
ISBN 0-9739566-3-1


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