Fighting with seventh graders from the year 2000

Life is strange.

I've been thinking a lot about how childhood has so much influence over the rest of our lives and everything you have to do to fight that influence later. Of course you don't have to fight all of it. But there are those snippets that rear their ugly head at times... reminding us of how far we still have to go. But also how far we've come.

I was a big time reader when I was a kid. I remember one time reading a Boxcar Children book in my classroom because I had finished my work early and the lights started flicking off and on. I looked up to see my entire class lined up for recess, waiting on me. I had been that engrossed in my book.

I loved stories so much and loved to tell them. I would pace around in my backyard all day telling myself stories. Oftentimes they were about a girl wanting to play soccer but, much to her dismay, there was only a boy's team at her school, and the adversity she faced trying to earn a spot on the team. Naturally she went on to be the leading scorer as well as get a date with the cute goalkeeper.

So I didn't venture out much from my familiar realm.

I can remember the day I stopped pacing and telling stories. I was in 7th grade and our teacher assigned us in groups to write a story. Titanic had just came out so, naturally, our group picked our heroine to be named "Rose" because that's what you do in 7th grade. You copy pop culture and try as hard as you can to not be creative. Because creative is different. Creative is weird.

Our story won and I was asked to read it at morning assembly in front of the entire school. I was pretty pumped. I read it, my hands shaking.

And then came the feedback.

Because it's not cool in 7th grade to write stories. It's not cool to daydream.

So I stopped.

And something inside of me still fears the vulnerability that comes with writing. Or creating.

On a regular basis I tell myself to delete this blog. Because it's dumb. It's embarrassing. No one cares about what I have to say or what I think or what my opinion is.

Because this is me putting myself out there. This is part of my art.

I have to fight those seventh graders. I have to tell them, "It's okay that I'm weird. It's okay to be creative. It's okay to daydream and to make art. Even if you don't agree with it. Even if you think it's dumb."

I have spent a good portion of my life arguing with 12-year-olds in my head. Things they said to me fourteen years ago. It sticks.

How can I convince my son that it's okay to make art? Even if it isn't good? Even if people don't like it? Even if it's weird?

First, I must do it myself. He has to see me putting myself out there. Because that's what art is. Being vulnerable. Taking a risk.

Praying God gives me the boldness to unleash the gifts he gave me to create... and to not listen to 7th graders anymore.


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