Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My teen years distilled

In a Lance Mannion post about him attempting to educate his young boys about comic books and lessons about life, he made a comment that I think perfectly represents me in my Christian teenage years:
I wanted to tell them that the world is full of young men who are afraid of everything. They are afraid of women, of sex, of their own urges and desires. They are afraid of other men. They are afraid of what they might be themselves. They are afraid they are weak, useless, powerless. And when people who are this afraid dream, they dream of not being afraid, but their dreams aren’t of achieving self-command and of gaining mastery of over their fears. Their dreams are of instilling fear. They dream of gaining power over what makes them afraid.

I hate to take a quote out of context but I'm a terrible writer, which is why I have to find people who are good at the wordsmithing trade, so that I can steal their descriptions of the world around me. This is a perfect distillation of how I remember my teenage years: being afraid of fucking everything.

Oh sure, like most teenagers I had attitude, snark, and more than a hint of belligerence oozing out my pores (which really hasn't changed in the sixteen years since), but as most adults can admit at some point in their lives, it was all youthful bluster. Keeping everyone else at arms length, seeming at the verge of a violent outburst at the slightest provocation, and making fun of anything and everything was a coping mechanism - a method of covering up inexperience, ignorance, fear, and a little bit of stupidity by offending anyone and everyone around you, in the hope that they don't examine you too closely, lest they discover the child hiding in the flesh of a young adult.

Christianity, at that point in my life, offered some solace. After all, if your invisible friend is the creator of the entire universe, the deity that drowned the entire populace of the world save for eight of his chosen people, and the galactic emperor that will soon slay all those who oppose him, it helps to alleviate some of the apprehension about stepping out to make your mark in the world.

Unfortunately, experience can slowly reveal to the observant that the great sky fairy doesn't have your back and, indeed, seems to be perfectly absent - almost as though he was never really there to begin with. It slowly began to dawn upon me that the driving force that helped me through the difficult times in my life were my own strengths, buttressed by support and advice from family and friends.

At any rate, Lance outlined possibly the greatest reason why I wouldn't ever desire to relive my teenage years again: since high school, I've learned that fear doesn't have to be the default reaction to change or uncertainty.

Oh, and if you're not following the writings of Lance Mannion yet, do yourself a favor and head on over there. I've stolen so many ideas from him that the least I can do is send one or two people to browse his writing.

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