Posted by: joha5 | April 19, 2010

No Money, Mo Problems!

The phone rang this morning at around 7:30am.  It was the school that I teach at and they wanted me to come in to cover for a sick teacher.  If I am honest, I did not want this today.  I had just spent a debaucherous weekend in Pittsburgh with a number of close friends at a beautiful wedding, I had driven through terrible thunderstorms for a seemingly endless amount of time both there and back, and I just really wanted a day to myself today.  It wasn’t too much to ask – or so I thought.

The ringing phone shattered my hopes for a quiet day.  I jumped in the shower and thought about all of the funny and outlandish things that I could write in today’s post about weddings, marriage, and Pittsburgh.  I was going to write about how strange, terrible, and wonderful they all are and share some funny – if not bizarre – anecdotes.  However, a 30 minute conversation with a large group of 13 and 14 year olds managed to change all of this.

It is funny how life manages to change so drastically but yet somehow always remain the same.  The discussion began when another colleague of mine asked the students ‘How are you guys feeling about school?’.  The response was instantaneous and candid. 

‘I’m worried about going to high school next year’

‘I don’t have enough time to do homework’

‘I’m afraid that I will fail my history test on Thursday’

‘I don’t like this teacher and I hate always having to try and impress them’

‘I’m stressed out and I don’t feel like I have any free time’. 

I may be 15 years removed from dealing with these specific issues but they haven’t disappeared.  They’ve been replaced.  My first reaction to these students earlier today was to tell them ‘if you think this is bad then just wait until you get to be my age’.  But then I realized how ironic and insensitive that would be.  They don’t have the same vantage point on life that I do and if I was to tell them how much more difficult life gets then I would have been relegated to being that old and preachy adult that is out of touch with the rest of the world.  More importantly, I would have forgotten where I came from.  Instead, I listened.  I listened to their worries and concerns and tried to remember what it was like for me 15 years ago.  Just because my worries back then are dwarfed by other problems that I have going on today doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. 

I thought about what my life could be like in 15 years from now and realized that I have absolutely no idea of where it could possibly go.

Much like back then.

I realized that I am going to have a whole set of problems that will most likely dwarf all of the challenges and concerns that I have today.

Much like back then.

And I realized that navigating your way through the world is a very tough and inherently difficult process.

Much like back then.

15 years ago my worries were comparable to those that the students had today but I still wondered how I was going to possibly make it through.  My concerns were genuine and valid because I didn’t have the tools at the time to figure it all out.  Somewhere along the way I picked up the necessary experiences and tools to forge my own path which only led to a newer set of challenges that I have had to learn how to deal with and solve.

15 years from now I will have solved most of the major issues that plague me as of this writing.  However, I will also have a whole new set of things to worry about that I will have to figure out and all of the things that I am worried about today will seem so silly and trivial.  Maybe I will have to worry about mortgage payments, or job seniority, or a new boss, or kids, or my health, or a loved one, or any one of an infinite number of things.  Obviously, I have no idea.  The one thing that I do know and the one thing that I was reminded of today is that no matter what the problem is and no matter how big it may seem to me at the time, I will always be able to find a way to solve it and to continue forging my path through life just as I did 15 years ago and just as I will continue doing so today.



  1. I agree with your posting entirely… I notice that the people that tend to be happiest are the ones in your peer group that have a more mature perspective/vantage. Some friends I had in high school seemed to be able to manage expectations and demands from teachers, parents, and peers much better than others. The more you are able to thumb your nose at the daily bullshit, I think you will be able to pay attention to what really matters. Really enjoyed the reminder that this post delivers.

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