Why You Should (Not) Fear the Youth

Throughout my life I have had many ‘nevers’. I am never going to own a business, I am never going to public speak, I am never going back to school…

When I was asked to present to high school students about my path to design I did not hesitate to accept this invitation. Even my wife, an educator, was surprised that I seized the opportunity. Why did I? In the past I faced many failures and humiliated myself on my way to a career in graphic design. Life lessons I could not have possibly been taught.

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If you look closely I’m discussing the importance of swimming, ROM the Spaceknight, Misfits tapes, and BMX (my upbringing)

We are not instructed about failure and certainly not how to rebound from it. Even the word failure looks brutal. If I knew now what I could have known then is not something I believe. Getting slapped with life lessons a few times is something I have learned to embrace. Failure, humiliation, and unhappiness can be short-lived and provide life experiences. How we deal with these misadventures is what matters.

Do not get me wrong, speaking to teenagers was not something I was prepared to do and certainly classified as a ‘never’. Jokes aren’t easy to crack and to them I was just some guy. I get it. I cannot tell you what I retained from grade school but I can tell you moments that impacted my life. The adults that spoke to me, helped guide me, or inspired me to do something.

We did not have a computer in my house growing up. Our basic cable allowed us to get the local channels clearly, diners and record stores were my social media. Students have the technology access I did not, answers can be easier to find, and they are being trained for jobs that we have not imagined yet. I cannot relate to teenagers and what life is like for them but they cannot relate to me either.

So what’s the point? Young adults need professionals willing to converse with them about failing and how those experiences help shape your future. Educators will appreciate it, you will appreciate it, and it might not seem like it but the students will too.

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