The year is almost over. It has been a year full of opportunity and challenges. A year full of laughs and sadness. A year full of unpredictables and many predictables. This is what the year has been like for most of the teens I encounter.
People often marvel at my passion at working with the adolescent population. I'm quick to acknowledge them as being one of my favorite people. Always thirsty to explore, thirsty for knowledge, thirsty to establish an identity and thirsty for guidance and structure. Unfortunately, the guidance and structure doesn't always come from the appropriate people, like parents, relatives, teachers or ministers. As a result, some have been forced to make some inappropriate, negative choices. Why they make these choices leads to a host of reasons, generally starting with something an adult in their life did or did not do.
I tell the teens I know this: Exercise your right to make good choices before its too late. You know right from wrong. Make the right choice. Stop waiting for someone or something else to give you personal meaning. Your value MUST come from within. You must understand that there is nothing more important than obtaining an education, starting with a high school diploma. Don't get caught up in the wrong things like skipping school, the street life, crime, violence. Life is not going to owe anything to you. You must stand on your own and make a way for yourself. I tell them that this is not only possible, but MUST happen.
It's hard being a teen and I recognize that, especially if life has taught you that what you think and feel doesn't matter. I'm here to say that it does matter and it starts with you. Make a decision today, a decision to dream big and achieve great, before its too late. You will meet people along the way who will help you to accomplish your goals. Its as simple as that.