In my attic there is a box somewhere with old notebooks. See, I've always been a writer. And when I was a teenager I would write. I would get upset or sad or anxious with life and I would write. Many of the writings are gone now. But there are a few still in that box.
I always felt better after I wrote and got all those emotions out on paper. Sometimes that was all I needed. Sometimes I would get all worked up writing everything out. I remember on many occasions going to talk to my Mom after I was all worked up. And I must say, I have been blessed with the best mom in the whole world. When I would start riding the wave of my emotions, she would anchor me. She would gently but firmly point out that what I was feeling was not how things really were. Emotions can do that to a person. You stay in them and stir them around. And they get worked up like waves in the ocean. They get bigger and bigger the more they get stirred up. And sometimes the sand that looks 20 feet down from the top of the wave, is really only inches away when you are standing on firm ground.
And that's part of growing up. You learn that emotions can play tricks. And you learn that what you feel is real - you really feel that way - but it isn't the truth of how things are. I've gotten pretty good over the years at recognizing when to step off the emotional wave and look around to see what is really happening in life. But as a teenager, you don't know that yet.
All that background was to share with you something that recently dawned on me. I have two kiddos now with phones. Phones = access to friends, Internet, messaging, text, etc. I've been noticing a growing problem in this house with kiddos who are constantly being influenced. They go to school all day and they have all the influences there of other people. All the noise, all the comments, the opinions, and the judging. When I was their age, I would come home and relax. That stuff was left at school. Home was safe. I would unwind and relax. I would talk to friends on the phone for a bit, but that was all. Now, this influence is constant. I've watched my kids miss this safe place.
But I found a bigger problem. Who I was as a teenager in person and who I was as a teenager in those notebooks in the attic were two different people. The notebook me was lost or upset and spiraling. I had that time to vent and recollect and get repositioned back to the me that I wanted to be. And then the teenager I was in person was the person I choose to be. The teenager I was in the notebooks was the stuff I was working thru, it was temporary, and it was stuff that no one else barely saw. Now that side of growing up is put on line. It is messaged, texted, posted about. These emotional waves are out there. And some people think these waves are the sand - some people think that this growing up meandering is who my children, and other children, really are. But it's not true. There is an outlet now to put temporary things out in a permanent place.
This revelation startled me when I saw it with my own child. And I pointed out that the person in the phone was not the person in real life. No wonder there is confusion everywhere. And I pointed out to my child that if they could portray themselves so differently unintentionally, how much more are they interpreting others in a misconstrued manner from who they really are in person?
We warn of Internet bad guys who come online to prey and pretend to be someone they are not. I have heard no discussion about teenagers who are growing and changing every day, who are putting themselves out there to friends, strangers, whomever, when they are also portraying who they really are not.
It's easy to do. You get upset. You vent. Your friend says something. You say something back. You go back and forth. And this emotional wave gets bigger and bigger. And your friends reads what you say and how you feel and they believe this to be you. Until the wave crashes. And who you really are is left standing when the emotions stop swirling. Then what? Then who are you? You may know. It's easier to know who you are when the emotions stop swirling. But who else knows? How are you now perceived? I'll bet you are perceived as the emotional wave version, because that was the one doing the talking.
Tonight I am thankful for discretion and wisdom as my children grow. I've told my Mom, and she knows, how luck she is that we didn't have all this online stuff when I was a kid. I don't want who my children are and will be to get lost because of the constant chatter and noise around them. I want home to be a safe place to relax, to center, and to remember who they are and who they want to be. Yes, we have changed the phone rules in this house. And so far, I've seen a lot more smiles as my children have spent more time just being them.