Thursday, August 9, 2012

Listening to eighteen year olds…

Recently I’ve been interviewing a slew of (about) eighteen year olds. Warned by one early on not to ask the cliché questions about college and career that people such as me tend to probe I was initially at a loss. So I asked about their interests. Which started the conversation.

Listening to these young adults, interesting and passionate, I must admit to feeling a bit old.

Mostly I was surprised by the depth of their understanding of the world around them. Yes, I was entering into my conversations being a bit condescending, but only because I was hyper aware of how adults (me!) tend to speak down to those younger than themselves…another warning I got.

I was nervous after so many warnings!

And my interviewees weren’t as polished as many of those people with whom I deal on a daily basis. But they were more open and honest, vulnerable and hopeful. Concerned and questioning, feeling that age was beginning to press its responsibility on their still smooth shoulders.

I couldn’t help feeling like the mom I am and offering my tidbits of advice. I know, I perhaps shouldn’t have, but couldn’t help it. They were too young to realize that while their problems might be unique we each have our skeletons and crosses to bear. I even divulged a few of my own, which I’d be less likely to do with someone of my own age, though I’ve gotten better at letting down my guard.

The timing is compelling, what with the Olympics going on, and so many younger people excelling at such levels. My eleven year old is crazy for the 2012 Olympics. I feel like I’ve seen them all before…

So the point of this? Just really that we can learn so much from people of all ages, much as we cluster our time with people in certain age brackets, our own or our children’s. Stepping into the world of those just old enough that my kids aren’t even aware of what awaits them was fascinating, disturbing and enlightening. I learned. And I thank them.

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