I’m sorry. I love you. December 11, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in friends, issues, teen angst.
Heh, leave it to me to end a blog with a Shawn Michaels (a.k.a. HBK, uber-religious WWE Superstar) quote.
You have to know where the song ends. When you’re done telling your story. I think that time has come for me. I’ve written everything that needed sharing, and I believe it’s actually a good thing that I no longer have anything to whine or complain about in my usual, teenagery way.
Sometimes we just run out of things to say, and I think it’s okay to admit that.
I am completely grateful for having gotten to know all of you. Even if the interactions were limited to a keyboard and a screen, you have helped me so much through my darkest hours. And I feel wonderful that somehow, writing this has helped in the lives of some fellow teenage atheists, even if it is just to a very minor extent.
Do remember that just because I’ve stopped writing here doesn’t mean that Teenage Atheist has ceased to exist. You can always use the Contact page or e-mail me. Ask me about my life, tell me about yours. Ask me questions, recommend places to visit or books to read. I will write back. Whether it takes me five hours or five weeks, I’ll always go out of my way to respond to each and every one of you. It’s the least I could do.
So, in closing: Thank you, with all of my heart. Thank you, to the young freethinkers who wrote in to share their stories and ask for counsel; to the mature ones (I’ve maintained that older does not always mean wiser, but many of you are brilliant) who offered their advice and knowledge; to the witty ones who made me laugh; to the sympathetic and the empathetic ones who made me feel that I wasn’t hopeless. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough. And I will believe the same about you.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
Ask Teen Atheist, #3 July 16, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, issues, teen angst.
Tags: acceptance, atheism, faith, family, rejection, religion
Hey. Okay, so I recently found your website and was reading around and I really want to talk to you. I’m 13 years old and I’m in the 9th grade. I know, some may think thats really young but I know that I don’t believe in god and I think I may be an atheist. I went to church for a couple of years with my father and believed strongly in the Roman Catholic religion. I live with my mother and she is Christian but we don’t go to church and during that time period (when I believed in God), I asked my mom if we could go to church, but we never went. I started thinking more about the religion. It just doesn’t make sense at all and I disagree with just about everything in the religion. I recently told my mom and my 18 year old sister how I feel and they we’re shocked and confused. Naturally they wanted me to go to church A.S.A.P. It’s not going to help though. I have a friend that goes to church every Sunday, takes religion classes every Monday, and is going to a catholic school next year, but doesn’t believe in God. I took it to offense that they didn’t try and accept it and they tried to convert me instead. It turned into a fight. They are not taking me seriously, they think I don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it. I would just like your help as to what to say to them or what ever you think will help me.
I think it’s wonderful that at such a young age, you’ve found the intellectual bravery to question the religion you’d been indoctrinated in. It’s very rare, even among adults — they can question anything else (their credit card bill, their boyfriend, their college professor, their salary), but religion tends to be the “untouchable” topic for most people. So kudos, Alissa!
Sadly, your family’s reaction is very common, at least in my experience. I pretty much had to go through the same thing that you did, and even now, after almost a year, they still don’t really accept it. Even if your family is not the most devout, they’ll go on “You heathen! Repent nowwww” autopilot once they’ve discovered a threat to the foundation of their beliefs (read: your newfound atheism). The first thing they’re going to want to try to do is to convert you back in order to “correct” your “mistake.”
Of anybody you’re going to have to deal with about your atheism, your parents will be the most difficult hurdle because they will always see that part of you as a disappointment, as a failure on their part. The best that you can do is to reaffirm your belief in yourself. Don’t let what they say affect you. Don’t put so much power in their words. I know they’re your parents and they’re an important part of your life, but they can’t dictate who you are and what you can and can’t do. You already have a strong sense of self, Alissa — hold on to that.
“They think [you] don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it” is one of the first arguments my parents tried to throw my way. I directed them to an About.com page on atheism. It didn’t work, and beyond that, it got ugly. They’re really never going to listen, at least mine didn’t; the best I could hope for is their silence about it. Hopefully you’ll be luckier, and they’ll learn to accept your beliefs over time.
I also regret to inform you that since both you and I are teenagers, there are going to be a hell of a lot of people who won’t take us seriously, especially when it comes to things like this. Remind yourself: it’s NOT “just a phase.” You’re an individual, too, free to believe in whatever you want to believe. Surround yourself with friends who accept you for who you are, and adults who actually do take you seriously (perhaps a freethinking and openminded teacher, if you have one?). Also, the atheist web community is full of friendly, accepting people who would be more than glad to talk to you about your problems, and share their knowledge about atheism with you. When I was going through that big fight with my family after being outed by my brother as an atheist, a lot of the online atheists dropped by my blog and left encouraging words. Not only did I feel accepted, but I also learned a lot about my beliefs.
As for what to say to your family, I don’t think anything can change their mind about this, but you can at least assure them that nothing they say or do will convert you back, but despite your lack of belief in a god, you are still fundamentally a good person, and that you hope they still accept and love you as a daughter despite your differences.
I hope it turns out well! More power to you!
Wordy ruminations July 9, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in career, family, friends, issues, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, Carl, death, introspection, Lance Armstrong, life, philosophy, prejudice, religion
T.A. – sleep + unlimited internet access + 1 week paid leave = tedious, lengthy diatribe on “my thoughts, let me show you them.”
Taken from an e-mail exchange with Holy Prepuce:
If at some point in your upbringing you bought into the Catholic idea of a heaven or resurrection (i.e. that our conscious selves survive death and perhaps even live forever), was it difficult to come to terms with the loss of this belief?
It wasn’t difficult for me, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a very inquisitive and imaginative child, so even at a very young age, I’d read the Bible (Revelations was my favorite part; I’m weird that way) and think, “What if this is just really tedious fiction?” The more I thought about it over the years, the more absurd I found the whole concept. Virgin births, talking bushes, life after death? Really?
I remember going through a very difficult time when nobody in the house would even speak to me, and I thought, “Well, at least God’s there for me. If I just keep praying, He’ll help me through this.” I realized much, much later on that God wasn’t doing shit, because what help did he provide, other than maybe sitting there, hearing my prayer and going “Mm-hmm”? I pray, and nothing happens. Nothing’s ever happened my whole life that was a result of a strong faith. It wasn’t God that helped me through that time, it was my own imagination.
Religious leaders scare people into remaining faithful with talk of eternal damnation and other horrific consequences. And the more you devote to the religion, the more you want it to be real, because you grow increasingly reliant on it, and it does seem like such a nice concept. So, despite a lack of evidence that what they believe in is real, religious people don’t want to question it because they don’t want to open up another can of worms when the alternative, turning a blind eye, is so much easier, especially when everyone around you is just as blind as you are.
As for my Predominantly Catholic Country in general, most atheists here come to that realization in college (I have yet to meet anyone who was raised atheist over here!). For instance, Carl became an atheist in the middle of a college course dissecting creation versus evolution. I think this trend exists because in college, the power of influence shifts from the parents to the peers and teachers, so people start to consider all sorts of options — beliefs, orientations, what-have-you.
The whole “college self-discovery” thing is a transition I never experienced or had to experience, probably as a result of my poor relationship with my parents, my natural inquisitiveness, my rebellious nature, and a hefty dose of introspection.
In short, I’m really weird.
But it’s always seemed to me that denial of mortality was one of the primary motivators for religious belief, even in the face of strong contrary evidence for the claims made–so finally accepting that we are not immortal has to be one of the defining moments of a a theist’s “conversion” to atheism.
That’s definitely true for a lot of Catholics. My philosophy about it has always been, I want to live in the now, and live the way I want to. Why would I be banished to hell or thought of as an evil person or a bad follower if I decided to eat a cheeseburger in Lent? It’s my life, and that cheeseburger looks pretty damn tasty!
I find it to be a terrible waste of life not to enjoy yourself because you’re waiting for the next life, which God promises will be much better. I see my life the same way I see my job, I suppose: I don’t ever want to fall out of love with it. I don’t want to settle just because there’s going to be something better later on, because I don’t want to be looking for something better in the first place.
I found this wonderful quote from Lance Armstrong that sums it up pretty nicely: “Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whther I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.'”
Also, tell me about life as a teenage atheist in your country…
I’m getting more comfortable with it now, as compared to back in September when I started the blog. 🙂 I don’t proclaim my godlessness to everyone, but I can reply honestly to anyone who asks without even batting an eyelash. Reactions vary (it’s usually a polite smile, followed by a change of topic), though thankfully none as violent as my parents’ reaction. It’ll always be the pink elephant in the room with them. I wonder what it’ll be like when my brother goes to college… 😉
It could’ve been…worse? June 7, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, rants, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, civil union, Layla, marriage, religion, respect, teenager, unity
On a whim after breakfast, two friends and I went to a large, museum-like antique shop, with ancient relics and furniture from India, Sri Lanka and the like. The store owner was a handsome, 50-something woman named Layla who was the kind of person every woman (or me, anyway, if every other woman was wildly uncool and wanted to be Paula Deen when they grew up) aspired to be like — wealthy, worldly, been-there-done-him. Very, very cool.
One of the friends I have with me is the naive, wide-eyed type who hopes to settle down one day with her American boyfriend (it was an internet romance), white picket fence blah blah blah. The discussion topic turns to how expensive it is to get married in the “US and A” (TM Borat), as compared to our country. I share my personal views on the matter: that marriage, to me, is just a piece of paper with a bunch of people’s signatures on it; that I didn’t intend to get married, I’d much rather be like Oprah or Susan Sarandon.
Layla: “What about when you plan to have children?”
TA: “Well, I’m an atheist. It doesn’t really matter.”
Layla bursts into laughter. Really, really loud, “Oh, you kids” kind of cackling. My two friends had no idea, so we all just kind of grinned uncomfortably. When her laughter dies down, she just says, “Oh, I don’t know anymore,” and wipes a tear from her eye.
So, it goes back to me being a silly teenager whose atheism is just a phase.
Apparently, atheism is the new Wicca.
You’d think someone as open-minded and worldly as she would be more respectful about it, but it goes to show the power that religion has over people. Everybody outside of the congregation is an idiot or a heathen. But I guess that applies to every sort of belief, Wicca and atheism included.
I still think Layla’s cool. Just, ever so slightly less than I used to.
Ask Teen Atheist, #2 May 15, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, Ask Teen Atheist, friends, issues, teen angst.
Tags: advice, atheism, friends, Martha, peer pressure, religion
Hi. My name’s Emily and I’m 14. I’ve been athiest for about a year. I haven’t told my parents, and I still go to church with them. I don’t have the heart to tell them. Anyway, I’ve found one other atheist, my best friend. All of my other friends are very religious. I’m afraid to tell them, because a few will probably dump me right off, but I really want to keep them as friends. I want to tell them, but it will get spread around school, and I see what happens to others. I always stay out of religous discussions. What should I do?
Well, Emily, you might be asking the wrong person about this, because I’m not one of those very vocal, “I’m an atheist and everyone knows it!” types. But since you asked, I’ll give you my perspective.
As I’ve mentioned before, I follow a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to my atheism, except when the person is very close to me and I can feel that he or she wouldn’t turn on me upon finding out. I’m not ashamed of my atheism, mind you, it’s just very annoying to have to be armed with counters to various inane arguments all the time (“Then where did the universe come from?” “That’s just a phase, right?” “Why is this world that we live in so beautiful?” and other fun crap). There’s also the risk of making your relationship awkward with whoever it is you’re talking to. Even with people you’ve just met, like what happened with me a week ago at a movie premiere:
TA: “I think this movie would appeal to all denominations. I mean, I’m an atheist and I’m totally interested in seeing this.”
Elderly Woman: “Ah.”
TA: “And what did you say your job was again?”
Elderly Woman: “I’m an organizer at our local parish.”
TA: “I see. Cool.”
[awkward silence ensues; TA and Elderly Woman eventually excuse themselves to go talk to other people]
Let me tell you, though, it’s very liberating to be open about your beliefs, which is why I’m slowly becoming more confident in discussing my atheism with others. I think that’s what you could do, too. You don’t have to have a big “Coming Out” party or anything, just try to work your way into becoming more comfortable about your beliefs.
If you feel like your friends will reject you for being an atheist, you don’t have to tell them just yet. You can approach the friends you feel closer to and try to get a feel of how they might react; for example, you could start by asking them about their thoughts on religion and atheism. This is actually what I did with my religious friend, Martha (“How do you feel about atheists?”), and that went pretty well. I also told my friends from school about my atheism after a long discussion on religion (I had a post here, around November 2007, but I deleted it by accident. *cries*).
I don’t want to resort to cliches here, but I do believe you’ll know the right time when it comes. It’s when you feel like there are a million things you’d rather do with your sixty minutes than go to Mass with your parents. It’s when your upper lip starts to twitch when your friends all agree that “all fags should go to hell.”
It’s all a matter of priorities, Emily. If you feel like preserving your friendships at the expense of keeping your beliefs hidden is the better idea, no one’s stopping you. If you can’t stand it anymore and you feel like you need to speak up, that’s okay, too. There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s completely dependent on what you feel would be better for you.
Let me know how it turns out! And if you feel like my advice isn’t enough, feel free to browse through the comments section, because my readers usually have better ideas than I do. 🙂
Tags: adultery, atheism, cheating, co-workers, gossip, infidelity, Kyle, money, Nikki, office, peer pressure, religion, rumors, secrets, Skeet
M’kay? Seriously, this office is TMI Central. I’m just a kid, let me flounce around in my weirdo outfits and devil-may-care grin without having the weight of your problems on my shoulders. Don’t you hate it when people tell you shit without you asking for it?
Just when I’d forgotten about my problems with Carl and Mrs. Carl (he quit, by the way — and oddly enough, I kind of miss him), Nikki comes into the picture with an issue of her own.
22-year-old Nikki (named after, yes, the song “Darling Nikki”) is the girl in your office who will stop at nothing to draw attention to herself. Some will be greatly annoyed (dude, nobody likes Nikki), while others, like me, only feel sorry for her. Just some silly girl with a histrionic personality disorder, is all. She’s essentially the office whipping girl, to the point that it drove her to tears once.
Still, it’s not like the derision is completely unfounded. Nikki would proclaim to anyone who asked that she used to model on the catwalk (still does part-time, supposedly), and everyone else would be like “…Really?” And I’d be one of those people. I’m not trying to be mean here, but Nikki, who might be model-ish from the neck down, is Broomhilda from the neck up. No kidding. She’s all splotchy and blemished and crooked-nosed, the kind of ugly that isn’t even modelesque ugly but just plain ugly ugly. She also brags about having expensive clothes, but when you ask her which outlet she got it from, she takes ten seconds to respond and then gives a wrong answer (read: she’s making it up). Nikki is the annoying kind of person who wants everyone to think she’s well-off, but it’s clear to everyone that she’s, well, not.
Let’s get one thing straight, though: unlike many of my co-workers, Nikki is not a bitch. The girl means well, she’s just a little off her rocker.
One day after hours, everyone else has gone home and it’s just me and Nikki, so I chat with her because I’m not picky about who I befriend. I’ll talk to whoever approaches me. She confessed that the pressure of everyone talking about her behind her back was really getting to her, particularly the latest gossip that she’s supposedly going out with one of our bosses, Kyle, even though he already has a girlfriend.
Now, weeks before my one-on-one with Nikki, I’d already spoken to some of my other (admittedly bitchy) officemates about her. One of them told me the whole situation, explaining that Nikki had a huge crush on Kyle and was now lying to people by claiming that they were in some secret relationship.
Back to where I left off, Nikki was like, “I can’t believe people would make up stuff like that, just for fun.” As a target of their rumor-mongering myself (I apparently have relationships with a couple of the bosses and several of my guy officemates), I just shrugged and explained that it was their nature to do that kind of thing.
Half an hour later, we’re standing outside the building, and she asked, “TA, are you good at keeping secrets?”
“I have to tell you something,” she confessed. “But you have to swear not to tell anyone.”
She got this weird expression on her face. “…It’s true.”
Ask Teen Atheist, #1 April 13, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, friends, issues, school, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, friends, peer pressure, religion, school, teenage
Hooray, somebody finally wrote in to ask me for advice!
I would have answered this sooner, but my PC frickin’ ate my thousand-word response. Spurred on by the promise of a love letter (yay!), I finally got my lazy ass around to writing a new one. Feel free to give your own input to help Luke out.
Hello, My name is Luke(Kinda obvious). I’m 17, and I currently live in the USA. I guess this fits under personal problems. I’ve been an atheist for awhile now…about 4 months I believe. Before I became an atheist I was a Lutheran, and basically attended church every Sunday. One day I realized that “God” is hurting this world, people fight wars over Religion ect. I finally came out to my mom about a month ago, funny thing is, she said as she grows older she’s been having some atheistic thoughts as well. She basically agrees with most of my ideas and beleifs on religion. I don’t care to tell my dad, since he’s a Lutheran yet he never attends church. I guess my family life is ok, it’s school that is a bitch.
My school is basically very stereotypical. Almost every student in my high school is either a “Red neck” or an extremely religious teenager. Since I don’t care much for trucks or country music I tend to befriend the religious types. I’ve came out about my atheistism to my best friend, he accepted it, didn’t think less of me, told my other two close friends, and they accept it just fine. It’s everyone else that I tend to care about that is a problem. A few days ago I was talking on AIM in a buddy chat room with a few other friends. We were all talking for awhile, and some how Gay Marriage and Religion came up. Of course, all the people were against it, I for one, am for it. I gave them my reason which mainly came out something like this. “You’re against gay marriage because the bible says it’s a sin? Well, the Bible also says a parent is allowed to stone their child if he disobeys, maybe the bible doesn’t have all the answers”.Not sure if that whole stoning thing is actually in the bible, my mom told me, so eh. After a few more statements, they asked if I was an atheist. And being the honest bastard that I am, said I was. Every since then, they’ve all been ignoring me, seeming to look down on me. One ever said I was going to hell, to bad it doesn’t exist eh? They all seem to think I’m a bastard who has no morals what so ever.
So, I’m kinda stuck, basically the whole group of people who I used to consider friends (Besides the 3 I mentioned earlier) Think I’m “evil” or a “satanist” of some sorts. Funny thing is I used to respect a lot of these people and thought they were more intelligent then this. The one person who doesn’t think this way is this one girl, who says she doesn’t hate me or anything for me being an atheist, but she acts like it so the rest of her friends don’t ignore her. I guess I can’t blame her . So I guess this is my real problem, do you think I should just fake being religious again. It would probably be a lot easier on myself if my school didn’t look down upon me. And my best friend’s girlfriend lumps in this crowd, so it’d probably be easier on him since he’s whipped as hell. Or do you think I should just stand up to beliefs, and fuck them all. Funny thing is, I don’t hate or look down upon them for their beliefs. I don’t try to shove my atheistic ways down their throats. I don’t talk behind their back either. Even if I did become their friends again, I’d probably wouldn’t ever respect them the same way again. Damn, looks I’ve rambled. Well, thanks for reading.
First of all, Luke, I admire you for being so honest about your beliefs, even when faced with consequences like that. It definitely takes balls. Hell, you’re more forthcoming than I am — I wouldn’t lie to people and say I’m still Catholic, and I do sign the “Religion” portion of application forms with “Atheist” (that might be technically inaccurate because atheism is not a religion, but whatever), but I practice a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and I tend to avoid joining in discussions when they turn to religion. So, good on you for being out and proud.
Being in an environment like that is definitely tough, and I hate that prejudice is still so prevalent, even among young Americans. You say that you like these people despite how they’ve treated you, and that’s all well and good, but…are they really worth keeping as friends? Because if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t bother trying to pander to people who don’t like me anyway. Why would I want to be friends with someone if it meant that I’d always be wondering in the back of my mind if he secretly hates me? Things would be great if you got to be friends with everybody, but real life doesn’t work that way (at least judging from my experience).
Faking being religious may seem like a good idea at first; I did consider it myself for when I go to college. But the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed. If you’ve read even a few entries on this blog, you’d know how little I think of my family, and how my atheism changed their perspective of me. I could have pretended to “find Jesus” again to get back in their good graces (or just get Mother Dearest to stop bitching). But I didn’t, because I realized it would have been pure torture for me, and it became clearer and clearer to me that it just wasn’t worth it. What I did instead was seek solace in my friends, who, no matter what their religions were, accepted me for who I am. I learned to stop caring about what my family thought of me, and once I did that, I finally felt happy with myself. That’s the key question, Luke: What is more important, that they like you, or that you like yourself?
Stop caring, I say, and find better friends. Even that chick who only pretends to hate you isn’t worth hanging around, because she clearly values her reputation over her friendship with you. How popular we were in high school doesn’t matter in the long run, anyway, at least from what I can tell. I’ve got co-workers who used to be high school cheerleaders, and are now just bitter, pizza-faced hags, having retained only their rancid personalities. The totally-out-of-it stoner dude who always zoned out in class and was made fun of by the other, “smarter” kids? He’s now my boss, Mr. McKenzie, well put-together, smart, and hella sexy, with ladies all falling over themselves just to get to talk to him. (Not me, though. I’d do him, but only when offered. :P)
If you really want to repair your friendships with these people, though, don’t lie to them. That shit will get tired, eventually. Instead, try to prove that despite your differences in beliefs, you are still a good and compassionate person. As they would say, “Turn the other cheek.” Hopefully, they’ll warm up to you and figure out that not all atheists are vicious, ill-intentioned demons.
I hope that despite everything that’s happened, you’re still doing well in school and in your personal life. Always keep in mind that what they say doesn’t dictate who you are. You’re still awesome!
Varying degrees of condescension March 3, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, rants, teen angst.
Tags: age, atheism, religion, workplace, youth
This is steadily rocketing up to the top of my Statements That Annoy Me the Most list, simply because I hear it almost every single fucking day now from various co-workers:
You’ll understand when you’re older.
Like when I told Gina, 34, that I was planning on being one of those never-gonna-get-married types, like Oprah or Susan Sarandon. “You’re still young, you’ll understand the importance of settling down and getting married when you’re older.” Or when I told Stella, 45, that I loved this job too much to quit and go back to college like everyone else (her included) tells me to. “You’re still young, you’ll understand the importance of education when you’re older.” (I get it just fine, retard, I just want to get used to my job first and then go back to college when I feel ready.) And I’m the only one in the office who gets this crap thrown at me, because I’m apparently the wunderkind there. Whenever I’m introduced by co-workers to new people, it’s never just “This is my officemate, TA.” It always, always has to be, “This is my officemate, TA. She’s only 18!”
I wouldn’t even be entirely surprised if I profess to being an atheist and somebody replies, in that preachy, sanctimonious way that I hate so very much, “You’re still young, you’ll realize the existence of God when you’re older.”
It’s like 18-year-olds are completely incapable of making their own huge-ass decisions. These moments just make me want to stand on my desk and scream, “I’m eighteen, not fucking five!”
This is why I felt a little sad about having to cross Carl off my list of friends; even though he was kind of annoying anyway, he was one of the few people who treated me like an equal, not some little kid who needed wiser, older people to show her the ways of the world.
It all goes back to what I said before: Patronize us, and we’ll be equally patronizing right back at you. Make us feel smart, and we’ll take everything you say to heart.
Then again, maybe it’s just my hyper-bloated ego? I mean, I feel like I’m ten times smarter than these assholes, anyway (dude, Annie’s 27 and acts like she’s 12, and even she gives me that “when you’re older” horse shit), and they just feel the need to be all preachy with me because they want to make themselves feel superior to someone. Hell, I even think I’m smarter than my parents, so there you go.
I mean, do my co-workers also expect me to address them as “Ma’am” and “Sir” just because they’ve got ten years on me? (Our company has a “First name basis” policy, which also applies when talking to to superiors.) As long as Dipshit McFuckface and I are working in the same position, doing the same things for the same amount of money, he has no right to expect special treatment from me. It’s ageist. (Not that I’m not ageist myself, but anyway.)
Mind you, this little problem is not driving me to the brink, though. Yet. I’m perfectly willing to suffer the crap, if only for the equal amount of “Wow, you must be really smart then!” comments I get from people. Because like I said, I have a ginormous ego.
Act your age January 30, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, career, issues, rants, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, Benjamin, career, college, Janice, teenagers, Vicky
While waiting at the clinic for my pre-employment medical exam, I met Janice, a 45-year-old fellow applicant who had three kids, all older than I am. (Most of my co-workers are in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s. Am I intimidated? Naaah.)
Like many other fellow applicants, as well as a couple of the folks at HR, Janice was shocked to find that I was only 18 and hadn’t even set foot in college yet.
Janice: “What about your studies?”
TA: “I’ll probably have to put that on hold in order to fully focus on this job. I’m taking it seriously, because this is something that I think I could really flourish in.”
Janice: “Sweetie, let me offer you some advice. I’ve got three girls, and my youngest is 20, so you’re already like a daughter to me.” (TA’s note: Whoa! Overstepping the boundaries a little, aren’t we? We just met!) “I think you should quit this job and focus on your studies, because college is very, very important.”
At first I thought it was a manipulative, underhanded attempt to sway my decision (in which case: Wow, she really is like my mother! Bada-BOOM!) and eliminate the competition, although I soon realized that Janice really did mean well; it’s just that, like most adults in my life — excluding a few awesome high school teachers — she was underestimating me.
Janice: “This job is for people like me. I’m 44 years old and I don’t have a lot of other options. You, on the other hand, have so much potential. Don’t waste it by staying here.”
I appreciate that she gives a damn about my future, but she didn’t even consider the fact that I wanted to work there. It was a beautiful office, with a great working environment (think Google), and it was a huge company. Why wouldn’t I want to stay and try to work my way up?
I’m writing about Janice because I’d like to address the older readers of this blog on how to deal with teenagers. I don’t mean to get all lecture-y on your asses, and I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on this, but this is something I’ve been subject to from both my interactions in real life, and my interactions on this blog.
As whiny and bratty as some of us might be, teenagers are smart enough to recognize when they’re being patronized. If you talk down to us like we’re just kids who don’t know any better, we’d be less inclined to listen to you. For instance, I only smiled and nodded at Janice, being equally patronizing back to her, because I knew that she was making assumptions about me based solely on my age. She felt that as an older, wiser woman, it was up to her to guide me back to the right path. (Just like my mother, and you all know how I feel about her.)
On this blog, I get a few good-intentioned comments which are marred with a tone of condescension. They don’t explicitly state that “You’re just a kid going through a little teen angst,” but the sentiment is clearly there.
If you treat us like adults and talk to us like equals, on the other hand, we’d be more likely to consider your sentiments and hold them in high regard. Two of the awesome high school teachers I mentioned above, Mr. Benjamin and Ms. Vicky, treated me like I was on their level, and as a result, they became massive influences in my life and I always gave their opinions high priority.
I’m also happy that most of my older readers communicate with me the same way. Even though I’m only a teenager, they don’t condescend to me, and I in turn respect their opinions.
Basically, make us feel smart. It doesn’t matter how dumb or clueless the teenager is; if you’re addressing us with a tone of “I’m older and therefore smarter than you, so you should listen to me,” we’re going to disregard whatever it is you have to say with a wave of the hand and a “This is, like, sooo beneath me.”
So, there you have it. This PSA was brought to you by Teen Atheist. And now I’m off to hang out with my girls at the mall, get my nails done and flirt with boys. OMG, squee!
Update: Dream College January 5, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, rants, school, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, college, religion
I got waitlisted.
How dumb does somebody have to be to not pass the entrance test for the school known as Everybody’s Second Choice? And, like, I picked Creative Writing, which is probably the least popular course on the list. I don’t know whether or not I still consider myself smart, but I’m definitely not the kind of smart that gets a kid accepted into college.
Perhaps this is the price I pay for skipping a whole year of school?
I’m upset right now. It’s a manly, angry-grunting, punch-the-wall kind of upset, although inside my head, I’m screaming like a banshee.
The problem is, Dream College was the only college I applied for. (This is seriously reminding me of that Justin Long film, Accepted.) I have three options: a) enroll in Crappy College, b) find a job, move out, wait a year and enroll again, c) find a job, move out, be one of those people who never went to college.