Sometimes the best life lessons can be learned in an insulting way. For me, that happened when my political philosophy professor called me, a 19-year-old (at the time), a child.
It was a Thursday. I had one class left between me and freedom, and to make matters worse, it was beautiful outside. The sun had finally decided to come out after weeks of hiding behind clouds, and the temperature had risen to a perfectly comfortable 72 degrees. Somehow it seemed an injustice to let such good weather go to waste, so a fellow classmate and I decided to approach our professor and respectfully ask if we could hold class outside.
Did we think he would say yes? No. But as my dad always says "You gotta ask for the business!" So we strengthened our resolve and walked cautiously into his office.
Whether by reading our minds or by seeing the raw emotions displayed on our faces, the man seemed to know instantly that we were there to ask for a favor.
With a humorous smirk on his face, he kindly listened as we stumbled over our request and laid out our logic. After we had said our piece, he responded by citing a political philosopher's writing (the specific author's name escapes me) and told us that we, as sophomores, were merely children. And as children, we would only succumb to the distractions of nature and ignore his teaching. If we had been juniors, he said, he would have allowed it.
I went into his office with the expectation of being told no but had not counted on being called a child. Although I respected his decision, I went into class feeling abashed and scolded. I hadn't been scolded in years, and that only made me feel more like the child he claimed I was.
It is a year later, I am a junior, and the cool, sunny weather made me remember that specific day. Having a year of experience under my belt has given me some perspective. I don't feel like a wise upperclassman, and the wisdom that I do have feels more redundant than revolutionary. And even though that professor claimed that an extra year of school would free me from being a "child," I can't help but feel that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I really don't know.
It's easy as young, vivacious adults to think that we have reached the peak of life. We're full of energy and potential, and the tendency is to assume that we've left that period of our lives where we are clueless and naïve.
But honestly, we're all just kids.
Assuming that the average human lives until at least their 80s, we're not even halfway through life! There are still so many lessons and life experiences that we have yet to live, and so many mistakes and judgment errors we still need to make before we can truly say we know.
That professor may have been right about juniors not being children. But he was wrong about one thing: I have so much more to learn before I can hold a class outside and not be distracted by nature.