Every year it comes up. I’m waiting for it. Excited to hear it asked.
Mrs. Weems, why we gotta learn words we’ll never use or read hard texts or (or insert whatever you think you won’t use later)?
I get excited, because here’s the answer:
How do you know?
You have no idea what you are capable of accomplishing, and therefore you have no idea what you might need. Why limit yourself? If I had limited myself to what my seventeen-year-old self thought I would need for the future, well, I’d have an impressive collection of Aqua Net hairspray and Michael Jackson albums to go with my jams and jellies (which are not food by the way- super-bonus-points-that-don’t-exist if you can come show me a picture).
You are taking challenging classes. You may not see all the applications. You are tired and working and overwhelmed. You don’t see how this is something you will need. But learning to work through challenges is EXACTLY what you will need.
You’ll also need compassion and the ability to ask questions.
You will need to face words, people, and situations you find foreign.
You’ll need to understand multiple perspectives, especially those different from your own, so you can make empathetic, educated decisions about your family, community, and world.
You will need to continue to learn how to learn, because you will create jobs that do not even exist today, and for those, you’ll have to teach yourself.
Growth is never easy– the moment when things are hard is the moment you are on the threshold of something new.
When you think you cannot learn one more vocabulary word? Don’t give up.
When you are sure you can’t study ten more minutes for your history test? Don’t give up.
When you have split three pencils trying to work that equation for math or physics? Don’t give up.
(Side note: Snapchat streaks? I give you permission to give up on those.)
Otherwise…don’t give up. Astonish yourself and us with your hard work. Do it.
P.S. for my fellow parents: Allow me to give myself a public pep talk and feel free to hum along: If I have to hear my son or daughter gripe about Spanish or Geometry (or insert the whining flavor of the day) just one more time I feel like my eye sockets might burst. What I want to do is tell them how to do it right. What I want to do is jump in and help. But what I need to do? Take a deep breath. Tell him he has what it takes. Tell her I love seeing her stick with something difficult. Tell them I’m proud when they work hard and don’t give up. In short, I need to let them own their learning. (WARNING: THIS IS NOT MY DEFAULT SETTING.)
Parents, we’re doing great, and our kids are nearing the finish line for this chapter of their lives (*cue tissues please*). Let’s run alongside them as their biggest fans. We’ve got this. Don’t give up.