A good friend of mine decided that she was going to take over Wednesday night classes for high school students at her church. To get ready for this, Melissa quizzed Amy, another good friend, and I about what we wished we’d learned growing up. It got me to thinking about teenagers *cringe* and how limited their view of the world can be.
My AP Biology teacher began each semester by drawing boxes on the board. We all would walk into her class, look at the board, and scratch our heads in wonder. She’d walk into the room and in the smallest, most centered box, she’d write “what we know.”
Box One: Everything we know.
As a general rule, we “know” everything. At least that’s what we tell ourselves, especially as teenagers.
I know that my name is Brianna. I know that there are 26 letters in the English alphabet. I know that the tune to A,B,C’s and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are the same.
But in all our infinite wisdom, we don’t know jack. We’re just a tiny little box in the Post Office of life. So we get curious and decide to crack the lid.
Box Two: Everything we THINK we know.
This box is dangerous territory for us. We are comfortable and content in this area. We are satisfied with what is around us and have no desire to find out more. Here is where we find things like intolerance. We become so relaxed in our happy little thoughts that we become a sponge. We become mindless drones, assuming other’s thoughts as our own.
My mom is a dog person and said all cats are evil; I think she is right. The guy online said that meat is bad for you; I think I’ll become a vegetarian.
We refuse to push the boundaries, to question authority. But, occasionally, someone will lift the lid on our box and we get to see the world for what it is.
Box Three: Everything we thought we knew and were wrong.
This one is hard to go through. It is like being dropped into a black sea with no land in sight. We are hit, wave after wave, with everything we were wrong about. We come to the harsh realization of how blind we were. Sometimes, this makes us want to run back to the comfortable confines of box two. But once we enter a box, we can’t turn back.
I was wrong about how food was processed; I will never look at a hamburger the same.
Other times, we are comforted by the thought that what once made us uncomfortable was wrong all along. We figure out that knowledge is power. We are so empowered that we rush to find the edges of the box and climb out into the unknown.
Box Four: Everything we DON’T know.
This is the box we should all strive for. It is all bright and shiny and new. Sure, there are dark places that we should avoid. But, the more we know, the better prepared we are for what life will throw at us. Box Four is freedom.
Here is what I am asking. I want to help people get out of their “boxes” and live their lives. I want your thoughts, your experiences, your words of advice, your favorite passages and quotes that help you get through the day. Let’s make our way out of our box and help these teenagers to do the same.
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Whatever makes you happy. Just send me your thoughts.