I watched Eighth Grade written and directed by Bo Burnham this past weekend with Mirabelle, my daughter who has successfully survived middle school and is now navigating her next journey as a freshman in high school.
Eighth Grade is about an introverted teenage girl, Kayla Day, surviving eighth grade as the school year is ending. Kayla has an active YouTube channel but has no views, she is voted the class’s quietest girl, has a crush on a boy that doesn’t notice her and spends hours on Instagram taking selfies that filter out her acne. She is pitiful and endearing, she is tempted and triumphs, she makes mistakes, puts herself out there and sometimes wins but mostly loses. Ultimately, she survives all while staying true to her values and herself.
It must be so hard to be a teenager today.
When we started the movie, Mirabelle was cringing and snapping at me not to “side eye” her. I knew it had to feel so vulnerable for her as the main character reflected many aspects of her own real-life awkward experiences, so I didn’t judge or “side-eye,” and I didn’t comment or try to teach. I just let the story unfold before us. As the movie ended, she was snuggling up next to me while we shared a few tears and a ton of giggles.
Oliver, my son, is still in 8th grade, so this movie was helpful for me to understand how those awkward junior high days are different than my own experience decades ago. The awkwardness is universal, but my teens’ environment is foreign to me.
So much has been said about the digital age and how our lives are so drastically affected by this onslaught of constant and immediate input. I am as tired as my kids are of my nagging about screen time. Yes, yes, we need to stop counting our likes, comparing our lives, and narrowing our focus to a shining 3×6 screen.
I am exhausted by managing the devices, scanning text conversations and reviewing YouTube history. It can feel relentless. Besides—they know how to hide, “jailbreak” and work around whatever block or security I put in place.
Part of me wants to throw the phones in the trash or lock them up until the kids are 25. Another part of me wants to pretend like I don’t even see them on their phones, and yet another wants to give them carte blanche while still living under my roof so we can discuss what they see and experience.
So what do we, as parents, do?
We’re going about this the wrong way. It was never about the phone: it’s about connection.
So we listen, we empathize and we make ourselves available. We protect and guide but most importantly, we take care of ourselves first. We give ourselves soul-care- (that’s self-care for our heart and soul.) We work toward wholeness and continually cultivate our own joy.
As much as may try to ignore it, I am nothing for my kids if I am depleted and distracted.
Yes, I’m realizing that I’m distracted too. 3 teenagers + 3 different schools + lots of school activities + 1 driver’s license (mine) x my own business = Craziness and living on autopilot!
I, in my own “middle school” (aka midlife) am called to be an example of a simplified and creative life, a life of producing versus consuming, a place where idleness allows original ideas to flow from me.
I am not perfect, but I am the perfect guide for my kids—even more so when I demonstrate a distraction-free presence and encourage them to be their unique (albeit awkward) selves living their own beautifully creative lives.
Do you want a consciously creative life?
Your story may be different. Maybe you are living the corporate grind or overwhelmed with balancing life and work but the result is the same. Maybe you’re going through the motions handling other’s priorities before your own and wondering when will you have precious time for the things you love. You are wondering how on earth can you give yourself permission to do what fills your soul—not to mention give yourself a little self-care?
I get it. After years of autopiloting and just reacting to my life, I became completely numb and empty inside. I was starved for self-care, space, and creativity and didn’t even know it.
I slowly journeyed back to myself and found a path back to the driver’s seat to awaken my soul. And now, I’m sharing it with you! It’s called Guided Creativity, and it’s for powerful women who are ready to care for their souls and answer the calling they feel within.
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