Someone close to me once confided in me after her son committed suicide that she wished she’d taught him coping skills, then she asked me how it was that my mom managed to instill this ability in my sister and me. Although I gave her an answer, her regret had stuck with me. We’ve all heard that hindsight is 20/20, but for her this was a very painful reality with no ‘do overs.’
As she talked, there were things that she looked back on and wondered ‘what if.’ What if she’d worried a little less about him feeling accepted? What if she allowed other family members to voice criticism instead of not allowing anything negative to be said? What if she’d taken her children to church more often? What if they hadn’t given him everything he ever wanted?
It seems to me that two things in our society have been rapidly and consistently gaining large ground. They’re not exactly what I’d call bad or evil, just dangerous if not balanced…and we’re not. Balanced, that is. It’s become a bit of an epidemic and it’s starting early.
When did losing become evil? Countless numbers of my friends and family have talked about the concept of not keeping score for the youngsters just starting out in organized sports or no grades on a report card. The concern is that children need to feel accepted. (And probably to deter the hyper competitive parents from causing scenes.) Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for acceptance, but there are several very important life lessons to be learned in both winning and losing. As for the parents? If you’ve watched Dance Moms or any of the kiddie beauty pageant shows you know that those kinds of people are going to be that way with or without a score.
The first lesson is you’re not always going to be good at everything right away and that’s okay. Some are going to have certain natural gifts while others will need to work at it. There are countless examples from Michael Jordan to Emmitt Smith who were told they weren’t good enough, or big enough, or talented enough to make it, but with hard work and dedication to their dream, they still found a way to make it happen. The second is that there will always be naysayers in your life. It’s your choice whether or not to give them the power to give up your dreams. Third is that regardless of how badly you may want something, sometimes you just won’t have the ability and/or tools to make that dream a reality. It doesn’t mean you stop dreaming…it just means you learn from it; discover the things you are good at and find another dream.
Of course there are also the obvious lessons. Learning to be graceful as you’re winning or losing. Learning that losing a battle doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war. It just may be a temporary setback. Shaking an opponent’s hand in recognition of their job well done (or maybe yours), while strategizing on what you can do to improve your own results next time. Most importantly, winning doesn’t make you a better person than everyone else, and losing isn’t the end of the world. After all, in the real world, no one is going to pull punches. You won’t get a job just because you applied. You may lose a job or relationships. If you’ve never been taught how to handle them as a child, how will you know what to do when you lose the shield of parents and/or youth?
The other thing I’ve noticed is how completely we’ve allowed technology and social media to take over our lives, and not in a good way. Direct communication with people is becoming less and less frequent, and it’s everyone’s loss. By not looking someone in the eyes and talking, we’re becoming desensitized to the people around us.
Twice in the last two days I’ve cringed over the lack of care shown at the devastation of others seen online. I choose not to post the video clip or articles from the two events, but many of you may recognize the stories anyway (and may have seen them for yourselves).
The first happened on Saturday when a close friend expressed her rage over a video clip seen on Facebook. It was supposed to depict the dangers of texting and driving; a message with which I firmly agree. Her problem? When she’d clicked the video she thought it would be a reenactment, but it wasn’t. It was, in fact, a live videotaping of a motor vehicle accident where fatalities and severe injuries had occurred, recorded in all it’s gory glory. Besides the deceased in the video, there were the injured people. The problem was that while all this was being recorded it showed the severely wounded lying on the ground, people (including police) milling around, the injured appearing to be all but ignored. The person recording not being asked to stop. This video was put up on YouTube for the world to watch. It made my friend and I wonder if they took the families of the dead and wounded into account.
The second item was of a young lady who was allegedly drugged, then raped. Apparently she had no idea this even occurred until she discovered that nude and compromising photos of her went viral. One of the perpetrators to the alleged crime sent out all sorts of mocking tweets about the night in question after she went to the police. A potential rape victim splattered online, mocked, then bullied? Are we really so desensitized to the pain of others that this doesn’t bother us?
Then, as if the universe was sending me a message, I heard something coming from the living room. Last night, while I was working on a project, my hubby was watching Girl Meets World (Yeah, we were both Boy Meets World fans, so we decided to check out the new show). The subject turned out to be cell phones! How utterly appropriate, right?
Turns out, Cory has followed in Mr. Feeny’s footsteps, and is now teaching the lessons. I loved that he forced his class to go “old school.” In the beginning of the episode his daughter couldn’t even say “hello” to her crush. It had to come through her phone. By the end….
Maybe I’m over reacting. I mean, I’m the girl who didn’t even have a tv in her home until she was 7. I lived in other countries without the benefit of a phone in my own home until I was 10. I didn’t play video games growing up. I climbed trees, played tackle football in the yard, played school and library (my mom made me stop trying to collect actual late fees on my “library books” from my sister). I wrote my own stories and told them to my younger siblings to entertain them. Am I saying the way I was raised is the right way and everyone else’s is wrong? Not at all! I’m simply saying that maybe we need to find a way to be more engaged in the world around us again instead of hiding behind our phones, tablets, and computer screens.
Care to share your thoughts?