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Thursday, November 29 2001

Self-image

Not sure whether this is general or just me (usually it seems to be just me)...but I remember giving more thought to the issues of self-image, self-centeredness, introversion and extroversion between ages 12 and 15 than any other time of life. Maybe it ceased when I began the Teen Events column for the Nanty Glo Journal/Sedloff newspaper group, at age 15.

If so, I can guess several reasons for it being moved to a burner so far back that although I had been formed by this process of self-discovery (and discovering traits I liked and disliked in others), I no longer concentrated on such issues. For one thing, I was probably too busy creating the weekly column to have time for such abstract reflections.

For a second thing, being published weekly in the papers, at the time, defined my personality and gave my self-image a big leap forward, so I no longer was preoccupied with how to be more popular. It seemed that all I had to do to be more popular at that time was spend more time in Nanty Glo. The Capitol Theater and the hops were the main places to make the scene and be seen, along with the K&B Restaurant, Mitchells', and events like carnivals. It even seemed to carry over somewhat to Cicero's Skating Rink in Ebensburg. Later, the main place to be was Sparky Millwards' garage.

But before this, the peers I talked with most—and I—were concerned a lot with self-image, and as I remember my daughter's middle school years, it was a preoccupation in her generation, too. It's not so much one's own image, but rather a topic of conversation concerning the "in" people and the "not in" people. What did the "in" group have that the "out" group lacked? Who was cool, and why? Who was conceited and offensively uncool? Were these real aspects of their characters, or perceptions we'd received from quick and possibly false impressions. And of course our real quest was to find where we stacked up in all these categories of cool, in, not-in and uncool.

Young adolescents seem to equate "niceness" (which may be defined as being paid solicitous attention by anyone cool or important), with goodness. They're ready to invest their futures in such members of their peer group...making efforts to make friendships-for-life with them. In our time especially, perhaps, with songs like the Four Lads' "Moments to Remember," we felt these were the most important times of our lives.

From our parents' perspectives (which they were all too happy to share with us), this was true. They hadn't spent four or even two years in college, in most cases. Those who had jobs (fewer than half of all parents did at the time) had ones that they wouldn't wish on us. So our high school years would be the best we could expect.

Of course, as our generation graduated from college, finished military service, or got married, we resisted that fate and insisted that more great times were ahead. (I believe this phenomenon is a major factor in the runaway divorce statistics racked up by our generation...so many of us were determined to have more than one chance at "happiness," or to taste forbidden fruit, or whatever image you want to use to describe our middle-age restlessness).

"What you are going to be," junior high English teacher Mrs. Manseau often said, "you are now becoming."

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

I'm a senior citizen (one of a series)

I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.

I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a word you're saying.

I'm very good at telling stories over and over and over and over.

I'm aware that other people's grandchildren are not as bright as mine.

I'm so cared for: long term care, eye care, private care, dental care, etc.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Advent thought for the day

The Spirit of God has set a great many people free from their sin, yet they are experiencing no fullness in their lives—no true sense of freedom. The kind of religious life we see around the world today is entirely different from the vigorous holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15). We are to be in the world but not of it—to be separated internally, not externally (see John 17:16).

—Oswald Chambers
Sent by Judy Martin

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