May 24, 2010

I'm Invisible to Teens

Teenagers don't see me.

It's true. I stood in front of a classroom door, watching hundreds of kids pass by. I was invisible.

They do not see me, they do not make eye contact, they do not smile, and they do not speak to me. They speak to each other, so I know it's not a physical perception problem. The problem is me. I'm an adult. They don't need me, therefore, they don't see me.

I've instructed my children to be the "Tenth Leper" so to speak. Be the one who is a little different, a little better, than their peers. Be the one who writes a thank you note to the teacher at the end of the term, letting him/her know that you appreciate what you learned. Be the one who makes eye contact in the hallway, perhaps a smile or a nod as you walk by. It costs nothing, but it does something important.

It makes you memorable.

A few years from now, when you want a job reference or a letter of recommendation for a scholarship, who are you going to ask to write one? Your teachers. Don't wait until the last semester of your Senior year to make all nicey-nice and suck up right before you need them. Teachers can smell fake a mile away.

If you have built a reputation for being excellent by starting years ahead of time, the adults in your life will remember that you were the one who was excellent in the sea of mediocrity that fills the school hallways.

You don't build a reputation over night. You build it day, by day, by day, little by little. By doing the little things. Like acknowledging people in your life.

Who are you going to acknowledge today?

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