A few days ago, I had to go to the Reitz Union with a bunch of my fellow Preview Staffers in order to do gator chants and be overly enthusiastic for middle schoolers. You know, the usual. After we finished welcoming the middle schoolers, a few of my friends and I were talking about how in middle school, we were all super unenthused about, well, everything. Then, my friend turned to me and said: "Remember when it was cool to not care?".
Yes, I do remember. I remember being in sixth grade, thinking I was too cool for school and that hating things was the new, hip way of becoming Jenny from the block. That my teenage angst and the suppression of my true, gentle, loving self was the only way that I would have status among the coolest of cool sixth graders. The truth is, it isn't cool to hate things.
Today, I am the biggest, most enthusiastic goober on the planet. I love caring. I love obsessing over my friends and cheering them on. I love being in love with my university. I love being in love with life. I love loving my parents. I love caring WAY too much. And I think that it is the coolest thing in the world. The coolest person you can be is someone who cares a whole awful lot.
I don't know why this happens. Why every middle schooler thinks that it is cool to not care about their parents or to disconnect from the world. But what I do know is that this is learned. We shouldn't teach our kids or our students or our peers to not care. We should teach them to love and to laugh and to break out of their shell and be themselves without fear or reprimand. We shouldn't tell people that they are "annoying" when all they are is enthusiastic. We shouldn't scold people for getting loud when talking about things that they are passionate about.
I think that you should be loud and enthusiastic and passionate in every sense of those words because they are absolutely wonderful things to be. The world doesn't need more hate. It needs more care, more love, and more joy. Even from middle schoolers.