“Is This How I Die?“
A couple of days ago in the checkout lane, the young man bagging groceries was quietly, though rather publicly, having an existential crisis.
People were telling him things like “You JUST need to calm down” or that “You JUST need Jesus.”
I was glad that he pushed back at these comments. Some of his anxiety-laden replies were rather clever.
While I was paying, he said (rhetorically, perhaps or to me): “Is this how I die? It can’t be how I die, can it?”
As I grabbed my bags, I told him of my premonition of how I’m going to die and that made him laugh.
He said “That is awesome” and thanked me for the chuckle.
You Have No Idea
I had few thoughts after I returned home from shopping.
First thing, regardless of your intent adding the word “Just” to a directive, or morsel of advice, can make it seem incredibly dismissive.
Just don’t do it.
Second, the fact that you were once a teenager (and got dumped by the person you were dating failed a test for which you studied hard, didn’t get into your first choice college….) does not qualify you to tell a young person, “I know what you’re going through.”
Kids in school today, were born into a state of perma-war; they face a $23 trillion+ debt, due to over 50 years of deficit spending; they endure mind-numbing drill-and-practice for standardized testing; many go without recess, gym classes, or extra-curricular activities.
And as a bonus they live with active-shooter drills and the specter of mass violence.
If they make it to adulthood they face crushing student loan and will have to compete for work with artificial intelligence software and honest-to-God walking, talking tool-using robots.
Now, as they were heading into the final quarter (or trimester), they face having the remainder of school year (of learning, sports, spring break, trips, college visits, school musicals, proms, Model UN, robotics tournaments, movies …. and just hanging out with friends after school) erased and their summer job prospects have likely evaporated.
Unless you were part of The Greatest Generation, your youthful experiences are probably nowhere near being on par with challenges today’s young people are staring down.
This is a tough time for young people. I can’t pretend that I know what they need, but it’s a safe bet that “dismissive comments from adults” is not high on the list.
Oh, my death…I’m certain that in the future, I’ll meet my end when I inexplicably recall decades-old cartoon episode, asphyxiate trying to suppress a laugh while I’m on an important video call.