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Topic: Labels (01/05/04)
TITLE: Would I Wish to be in their Shoes?
By Ann Marie Lindenmeyer
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Defining who we are, the importance of what others think of us, and finding independence, all encompass the years from pre-teen to teenager. I thought it was hard ‘back in the day,' but in today's world...WOW! Our pre-teens today live in a fast-paced, live for yourself, put others down to get to the top, type of world. When it comes to labeling people, it still happens. Labels seem to be the same as they used to, just different lingo, but the pain and anguish it can cause in the pre-teen years hasn't changed.
The ‘brains,' the ‘poppies,' the ‘losers,' she's ‘fat,' he's ‘ugly,' and many more graphic names I don't wish to mention. The bad name-calling at school begins at such a young age. Labels begin as early as first grade in the small town where I live, a population of approximately 1200 people.
Labels cause me more grief then I was prepared for. Working with children ages 10-13, and even occasionally in high school, I find that what others think of them is a high priority. The youth at my church struggle with their identity at times. I notice the high school youth who have decided to stand ground with their faith are self-assured. Even though they face struggles, they stand strong for Christ. On the other hand, the youth I mainly work with are in the pre-teen years. They are in the midst of finding themselves, their faith, and defining just who they are. Luckily, I have a strong group of pre-teens that aren't afraid to talk about their faith, but sometimes it can only make things seem more difficult.
At church, youth group, or events surrounding church, you can see them growing, seeking, and yearning to know more about Jesus and living for God. Then they go back to school. That is all it takes sometimes to change someone. They act different, try to fit in, try to be cool, popular, and accepted. If they decide to go against the popular crowd and just decide ‘to be who they are,' then they feel hurt, insulted, and frustrated with the way others act toward them.
Being cool can become being the bully, being mean, saying hurtful things...and at my local school, that makes someone popular. So there I am trying to teach them that these ‘labels' shouldn't matter, instead it's who you are inside, and not following the crowd to go against their beliefs that's important. Would I wish to be in their shoes?...maybe, only if I knew what I knew now.
Copyright 2004, Ann Marie "Ree" Brown