I had two rather conflicting experiences regarding the “young people” this week. By the way, let me just say that I hate the term “young people.” Those over the age of 50 seem to use that a lot to refer to anyone between the ages of 12 and 35. “Young people” is not a valid label for a demographic, okay? The wants and needs of a 15-year-old are not the same as the wants and needs of a 26-year-old. We are not a homogeneous group. Plus, saying “young people” makes you sound like “old people.” Hurts, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I had two rather conflicing experiences regarding high school teenagers and their habits in the last week. On Thursday, I was subjected to an unexpected diatribe in which one of the “over 50” crowd expressed her extreme displeasure with teens. She stopped by a meeting to speak for about five minutes on the failure of the next generation. To sum up: they are lazy, they don’t know anything, they don’t try, they are disorganized, they don’t show up, they don’t care, when you want them to do something they just stand in a group and talk to their friends, etc., etc., blah, blah.  I did not have a chance to refute her claims or burn holes in her brain with my laser vision, because as soon as she stopped talking, she ran for the door. I’m guessing she saw the lasers charging.

My second experience involved serving as a proctor for the Academic Decathlon State Finals. Oh, if only the “old people” could have seen these teens in action. Here, we had teams of nine students each, ranging the GPA spectrum, from 40 schools across the state, competing in ten different academic categories. No, this wasn’t stuff they would have been tested on anyway. They spent all year going above and beyond the call of the standard state curriculum to study ten extra subjects. They took eight multiple choice tests (50 questions each) in the following subjects: art, language and literature, math, social studies, science, economics, and music. They had to prepare and deliver a speech and give an impromptu one, as well. They had to give an interview. Then they had to cap it all off with a Jeopardy-style relay.

Yeah, “young people” are totally lazy, don’t know anything, don’t try, are disorganized, don’t show up, don’t care, and they definitely don’t do anything all day long but stand around and talk to their friends.

Heads up, awesome high schools kids. More unsolicitied advice coming your way:

1.) Old people have been hating on young people since the beginning of time. Even Socrates was whining about the dangerous youth, back in the 4th century BC. I think for some people, criticizing the newer generations is a symptom of old age. Some might not see your value but many, many more do. I know it can hurt but try to shrug off the grumpy ones. They’ve already written you off so don’t hesitate to show them the same courtesy.

2.) If you’re studying for a test and there’s something that just won’t stick in your memory, write it out seven times in a row. Trust me.

3.) There are some important things you will learn in school that you will forget over time.

4.) There are some important things you will learn in school that you will remember forever.

5.) There are some things you will learn in school that are pretty much useless but you will forget them over time.

6.) There are some things you will learn in school that are pretty much useless but you will remember them forever. Keep them in your back pocket for cocktail parties.

7.) Inside jokes from high school will always be funny.

8.) If you can, eat lunch outside. I forgot how utterly depressing school cafeterias can be. Why is the lighting so DARK? Are they trying to induce a sweatshop mentality?

9.) Make time to read for fun. Trust me, you can fall out of practice.

10.) Keep discovering new ways to be awesome.