Last Saturday I had the privilege of being invited to speak at the Deutshce Schule Der Boromaerinnen (Dsb) (German School in Bab El Louk). I had originally come in to talk to the graduating class during their English class about my book and the experience of getting published. We ended up rescheduling a lot and instead that class had finals that day and I got to meet some younger and extremely charming young ladies aged 14-17.
As they came in and filled the hall, I stood there leaning on the Yamaha grand piano and wondering if anything I could say would capture their attention for longer than 30 seconds. Yet there we were minutes later joking around, talking about books, movies, my novel, getting published, time management, hobbies, music, career choices, bucket lists and pipe dreams.
The conversation steered itself towards their concern on their ability or preparation to choose majors, universities, and potential careers. It is perfectly normal to not know what you want to do with your life at their age. Yet this wasn’t what concerned me, they were not lost, they were scared. Their collective level of anxiety was so high it was tangible. They had a fear of tomorrow, a fear of the unknown, a fear of having to be responsible, a fear of accountability, a fear of having to fend for themselves and make their own decisions. They had been in such a high pressure high discipline environment for so long, they feared what would happen once that frame of support and stress was no longer there.
We found ourselves debating the merits of a European education. Whether there is such a thing as too much discipline. Whether students in German, French or British schools were oppressed by the rigidity of the system, robbed of their individuality. Comparing it to the creativity and individuality embracing American educational system that is a lot more lax.
Yet there they were, young, motivated, their entire lives yet before them, and instead of embracing that fact they were panicking about the thought that what they believed were the best, easiest and safest years of their lives were soon to be behind them. It saddened me greatly. A regiment aimed at preparing them for the world rendered them instead too insecure to venture out into it. I hope that changes in the near future. May their teenage dreams burn stronger and brighter and may they find joy in taking risks, working hard, living life and realising those dreams.