What makes you want to speak out?
The blog hop for A Time to Speak is starting. This is to encourage myself and you to speak out against injustice, about your passions, for the sake of those whose voices are not heard.
I am passionate about the teenagers of our world.
I’m passionate for them because I think this culture is mistreating them. It speaks out against cyber-bullying and yet often uses teenagers as the butts of jokes.
Every time I hear one, I feel sick to my stomach because I remember being a teenager. I remember my voice — my very oxygen — being written off by some people with a wave of the hand and, “Riiight…says the teenager.”
I remember feeling like I’d never be seen as an adult because some people found it more important to use my stage of life as a sarcastic joke than to help me grow into someone of worth.
I remember the struggle of knowing how I wanted to act, yet watching myself trapped in immaturity as I figured out how to turn my mature thoughts into mature actions.
Despite my solid family, my God-fearing upbringing, my incredible parents and my adventurous life…I still had a hard time being a teen. That’s the nature of it. That’s why we all know what I’m talking about when I bring up the teenage years. So it makes me wonder again and again…how can I speak to the teens who have such a different life than I did? The ones who are butts of more jokes than I ever heard or who grew up in a broken home. Or who are immersed in a darkened culture that I never had to tackle head on?
Well, I’m a writer…so I’ve written a letter:
I see you.
More than that…I see what our culture is calling you, what it’s been branding you for years.
Lazy. Rebel. Know-it-all. Always-feeling-so-misunderstood. The very word teenager is often treated like an insult or curse-word. But…I know that’s not you.
I’ve been there. I’ve been a teen. You’ve probably heard endless adults or even your parents say this: “I was a teenager once, too!” But that was years ago — ten for me. And even in a measly ten years I can’t possibly say I understand. You’re seeing a darkness of the world I never had to encounter.
This world is hard on you.
I know you’re tired. Juggling the pressure of friends at school, the pressure to “fit in” and yet the desire to “be yourself” are at constant war. You’re in a battlefield upon which I never fought. I’m sorry. 🙁 Not to mention you’re wrangling wild hormones that heighten emotions and make everything feel like a slap in the face. No wonder you’re so tired. No wonder you sleep in when you can.
I know you’re smart. Not just school smart, but you’re a human. And — even though you’re still learning — you try to make the best decisions for yourself. Just because some adults might see a better decision doesn’t mean you’re not trying your best.
I know you feel trapped. Like your life won’t ever really start until high school ends–if you’re lucky enough to survive high school, that is. This sign is a cruel joke because you can’t move out until you’re old enough. Some people won’t hire you because you’re “a teen.” Much of our culture is neglecting to teach you how to learn, how to grow. Instead we’re laughing at you. Or we’re rolling our eyes at you. Or we’re labeling you just because you happen to be living through a decade that is the closest thing to hellfire.
I know you feel ignored. Like you don’t have a voice. Our culture claims that you think you know everything. Funny, I’ve never heard you claim that. But it’s not about knowing everything. It’s about you being known. (Tweet this) And that is one reason why you speak. You speak in the hopes that your internal screaming will somehow make it to the self-righteous ears of the adults ignoring you.
So maybe that’s what draws you to read books like The Hunger Games, Legend, The Fault in Our Stars or maybe even A Time to Die…because those characters — those teenagers — are part of something bigger than themselves. They are able to change the world, to grow, to survive the darkness.
I want you to know…that’s still possible for you. In real life, not just in books, despite what our culture says about you. I write Parvin’s story so that you will see…you have a voice. God can still use you to speak to the entire world. (Tweet this)
But before you go out to tackle the world, fighting one of the toughest battles known to man, I want you to know…
You’re not alone. Believe it or not, there are adults out there, parents out there, who see the real you and can see that there is so much quality in you. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have parents like that, or a church family like that. Even if you’re not, I promise…not everyone’s against you. I’m not. And God certainly isn’t.
You are heard. I hear your voice through the fiction that you devour, through the social media you cling to, through the tiny whispers that arise from a desperation to be known. I hear you. God hears you. Keep speaking, teen, because your voice will not only shape your future but will affect this world.
I’m sorry for the taunts and the labels and the lies and the hurt that have come from the harsh voice of our culture. I’m sorry that I’ve been part of it a few times. I’m sorry that it took me this long to really see you.
Don’t give up. We’re here — me and God and the other adults reading this who wish they could send you a letter and a hug (or fist bump…for the guys.) And we’re rooting for you. We are adding our voices to yours because we are #called2speak for your sake. Because there are adults listening. Sure, our voices might be dimmer than those of the world right now, but they’re there. Right along side yours. Defending yours.
– Nadine and the other adults who truly see you.
In the comments (or contact me in an e-mail):
Teenager: Speak. What do you want the world to know? We will hear you.
Adults: What would you like to say to the teenagers of this world? (Positivity, please.)
To celebrate the release of A Time to Speak, I’m having a huge giveaway (see below) as well as an enormously epic Facebook party. Also, don’t forget that if you pre-order A Time to Speak, you get a free envelope of swag!
Other bloggers and the dates they’ll be sharing their passions in a #Called2Speak post:
- 9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
- 9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
- 10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
- 10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
- 10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
- 10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
- 10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
- 10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
- 10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
- 10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
- 10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
- 10.17.15 – Megan Besing
- 10.19.15 – Angel Roman
- 10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
- 10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
- 10.23.15 – Shantelle Hannu
- 10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
- 10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
- 11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
- 11.17.15 – Amanda Fender