T I R E D …..how many ways can you say it?
Worn out, wiped out, done in, worn down. All-in, used up, washed out, dog-tired. Bushed, beat, pooped, drained, and sapped.
How about exhausted, unenergetic, depleted, or fatigued? Throw in a couple 50-cent words while we’re at it – debilitated and enervated.
I’m sure there are more words I could add, but my brain and body are just too weary (there’s another word!) to think any harder. All of the above describe my overall feeling right now.
See I was up at o-dark thirty as my former Army man husband likes to call early in the morning. Yes, it was one of those days I witnessed a sunrise as I was driving to my destination today.
I arrived there at 6:50 a.m., unloaded my vehicle with my co-worker, set up an exhibit table, and then stood for most of the day until around 2:15 p.m. But that wasn’t the exhausting part of the day. What wore me out the most was talking non-stop to hundreds of teenagers at an all-day school event. My co-worker looked totally wiped out as we packed to leave, and he’s 31 years younger than me!
Trying to keep teens’ attention with witty stories, energetic ideas, yet good, solid advice and information they need to make the best, healthiest choices for their futures is exhausting. I like to compare it to being a performer on a stage. When you pour yourself into your work, demonstrate your passion and sincerity for what you are trying to portray, it takes an enormous amount of energy.
When I attend these events, sometimes I envy the other exhibitors. They usually sit behind their tables, waiting for students to visit, and tell them a few tidbits of information, hand them a free item, and send the students on their way. Not us!
We stand at the sides of our exhibit booth, we draw teens in with animated stories and demonstrations, we entertain them while we inform, educate, and inspire them and that is very tiring work. But the connection we make with young people is priceless and oh, so rewarding!
Students run up to us and exclaim with a smile and an excited voice, “I remember you! You came to my class!” What a joy they can be when they listen so carefully and tell us, “You are the best table here!” or “I always look forward to coming to hear your story!”
Then there are others who shyly advance, can’t quite look us in the eye, but then they share the hurts that they have experienced. Those are the students I hope we reach the most.
Today was no exception, no matter how draining it was. For some students, we saw the proverbial “light bulb” come on; for others, we can only hope we planted a seed.
Teens can be so difficult, but they are my favorite people. No matter what they say, or how they act, inside the façade they put on, are children wanting to be loved and accepted. Their countenance lights up and they literally beam when you make a caring connection with them.
Let me share an example. A young girl approached our table with her friend. She looked familiar to me, but that happens often because I see so many students in several high schools. She eagerly greeted me hello and then blurted out, “I know you, well, I kinda know you.”
She explained I was in her classroom last year, but then informed me she also saw me at her great-grandma’s funeral. Puzzled, I asked her who that was and when she told me, I wanted to cry.
Every summer, this girl’s great-grandma would endure listening to a neighborhood child prattle on about this and that on her covered back porch, where the heady aroma of blooming honeysuckle would waft through the air. She would take time out of her busy day to sit on her porch swing with that youngster, just listen, and offer advice. The youngster was me.
Mrs. W. wasn’t just my neighbor, she was my Sunday School teacher, and she was my summer confidant for many years. Once I attended a seminar on helping at-risk youth, where participants were asked to tell about an adult, other than our parents, who impacted our lives as youngsters. The exercise was to remind us that all children need adults who make a positive difference in their lives. My mind immediately thought of Mrs. W. who in her quiet and loving way was such a blessing to me.
And today the tables were turned. I was given the opportunity to make a positive impact on Mrs. W’s great-grand-daughter and her future. When I told this teenage girl about the sweet fellowship I once shared with her great-grandma, the young lady in front of me beamed. At that point, I knew a very real connection was made, one that won’t be soon forgotten.
Talk about full circle. So even though, my body, mind, and voice is tired, tired, tired, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for this day and Mrs. W.