What Do You Need to Speak and Feel Heard?
Maybe I'm just being optimistic, but lately I feel like I have been noticing more people who really want to hear and know what young people think. Not who want to assume, presume, project or decide what you think, but who actually want to ask you and hear what you have to say about yourselves for yourselves.
If I'm not delusional in noticing this (always a possibility), I don't have to tell you this is obviously very good news.
One of the common complaints we hear a lot at Scarleteen from young people is how often you have to put up with older adults out and about in the world saying things about you that you don't think are true, or making broad generalizations about all teens or twentysomethings that don't accurately represent the vast diversity among you. And that last thing you need me to tel you is that that can be particularly problematic when it comes to talk that has anything to do with sex or sexuality.
Of course, one of the challenges when adults ask to hear what you have to say is actually having that conversation (which involves earnestly stepping up on your part, but also involves older people stepping up to pay attention when you do speak out), finding places to truly be heard and feeling able to really and safely speak your truth.
So, in the interest of hopefully helping grease the wheels so that you can be heard not only more, but really heard well, I want to put a couple questions out to you, in a place where older adults can read the answers.
In the comments on this post, can you -- you, teens and twentysomethings, not older adults -- talk about what you want and need when it comes to open, safe space for you to be able to talk about yourself and your realities, particularly outside youth-oriented spaces like Scarleteen and other places like it? What do you need older adults to do? How do you need them to respond (or keep from responding)? What makes you feel emotionally safe and respected? What helps keep you from feeling patronized? What do you need as far as trust goes to say what's your for-real and be assured it won't be used against you or misrepresented?
Seriously, the ears of some older people are burning. Fill'em in.