As a kid I was generally an outsider, rarely accepted in popular circles. Just so we’re clear, popularity was more or less tied to surface things like your clothes, shoes, looks, brawn and the company you kept. I wonder if this is still the case today.
I remember the first weeks of freshman year being warned on a bus ride that I was sitting in the wrong seat. I didn’t know that freshmen were second class citizens, forced to sit at the front of the bus. [I realize this sounds ridiculous for so many historical reasons. Go figure.] One day I was reminded of my place on the bus by this bully of a kid, and I chose to defy him and his cronies. I had been publicly called out and humiliated, and I chose to fight for my seat. I felt righteously indignant and just in my cause! I accepted the consequences and continued to sit at the back of the bus.
Many of the “weaker and lesser” kids, my peeps, were watching, and I knew I needed to stand firm for them. I took a beating that day, but that’s life. Whether you choose to stand your ground or not, whether you choose to endure your test, others are watching, and how you respond matters.
I must say, I’ve become much more discriminating as to what I will fight for as I’ve aged. We all choose our battles carefully because we know each has a cost. One battle worth fighting for is our families, especially our children. We have to fight for children who don’t have engaged families listening to and advocating on their behalf. These children need us. There is a buffet of challenges for young people, no matter where you live. The challenges may differ depending on your zip code, but regardless the impact can lead to life more abundantly or death. I can only hope that the worst a child deals with is a minor disagreement on who gets to sit in the back of the bus.
To change the trajectory of a generation, we as adults must set high expectations for all kids and fight for the things they need to be successful.