I have a 90 minute commute to my new job. I plan to listen to several audiobooks over the semester, but I didn’t have anything with me this week, so I just had the radio and my own thoughts to keep me entertained.
Yesterday I introduced the career research project to my students. I think it went well. It was mainly technical stuff – due dates and specific requirements and all that jazz, but I’m hoping for a more detailed discussion about what careers they’ll choose to research soon. It’s fun talking about that stuff with teenagers. It’s fun helping them think about the rest of their lives. I saw excitement in some students as we tossed a few ideas around. One of my most squirrelly boys was eager to get started, asking me after class if he could go ahead and start interviewing people in the field he wanted to pursue, even though that part of the project isn’t due for another two months. Another girl mentioned she was interested in two entirely different career fields, so she would have to choose which one she wanted to research.
As I drove home, I reflected on the various conversations of the day, proud to play a part in helping these teens begin the process of building their aspirations for the future. And then I started listening to the local “mix” station on the radio.
“Last Friday Night”, by Katie Perry
“Just Dance”, by Lady GaGa
“Hey Mr. D.J.”, by Rihanna
“Here’s to Never Growing Up”, by Avril Lavigne
Song after song celebrating irresponsibility, intoxication, and the party lifestyle. I get the carefree attitude of youth. I get the desire to have fun. But why on earth would you want to never grow up? Here is just a sampling of the lyrics from Avril’s song about being “forever young”:
We’ll be running down the street, yelling “Kiss my a**!”
I’m like yeah whatever, we’re still living like that
When the sun’s going down, we’ll be raising our cups
Singing, here’s to never growing up. . .
. . .We live like rock stars, dance on every bar
This is who we are, I don’t think we’ll ever change (hell no!)
They say just grow up, but they don’t know us
We don’t give a f**k, and we’re never gonna change.
Really?? You’re never going to change? Meaning when you’re in your thirties, forties, and fifties, you’re going to be dancing on bars, yelling at people to kiss your hindquarters? Honestly, the mental image I formed as I listened to the song was pathetic. The implications of never growing up (as the song describes it) is a wasted life spent in bars, so I was picturing middle-aged people doing the things in the song. How is that life better than the kind of lives we were discussing in class, living deliberately while pursing goals and dreams?
The excitement I saw in my students’ eyes – while talking about a research paper, I might add – cannot be found in bars and weekend parties. Those might be fun for a while, but they won’t bring lasting excitement or fulfillment. Growing up is a beautiful thing. Responsibility brings accomplishment. Don’t deprive yourself of that.