Becoming Yourself in Scouting

by Pastor Gene Horne for the Alamo Area BSA: January 2016

Human beings are the most interesting of animals. There are many reasons for this. Look around you at the diversity of the people you see and meet every day. I’ve always appreciated the fact that each one of us is different from all the others around us. The only exception is identical twins but even here it will depend on the environment in which each twin grows to adulthood as to whether they stay the same. So there are many factors that will shape us as we grow to adulthood: First is the genetics of our parents. Second factor is the community in which we grow up. Third factor is the type of education we receive. This list will grow for there are a great many of these factors that will influence what kind of adult we become.

However, I am convinced that there is one factor over which we have a great deal of control and it may be the only one. We all start out in life much the same way. We are born into the world totally dependent on our parents. But what kind of parents we will get is not our choice. First of all the world we encounter is us. That is we do not separate the world from ourselves. Soon we discover our mother is not ‘me’ and I have begun to separate me from the world. This dependency on our parents will continue for several years to come. Usually around Middle School we find our mental, physical and social worlds are changing. Our bodies are changing. It is both a hormonal change and a physical change. Mentally we are much more aware of who we are. We are beginning to define ourselves by those around us. And of course, the opposite sex is becoming interesting and as yet we were not sure how to act in dealing with this situation. Some will pick up the social aspects of dealing with the opposite sex faster than will others.

We will discover that there are differences; no two of us are alike. Some will be athletic, some artistic, some scholarly, some find schooling a waste of time, some look forward each day to attending. We are all different and yet, at the same time, we desire to fit in. We are trying to become an individual and at the same time trying not to be different from others in our group. If this sounds contradictory that is because it is. It is one of the greatest difficulties of our teen years. This is because at this time in our lives we take ourselves very seriously.  The question who am I, may never occur to many teens but this is the basic question that underlies becoming an adult. It is not unusual to feel alone, in these years and to feel that no one understands me. Yet every teen in our group is having the same problems. Even though we may have several close friends, they are not much help for they are often struggling with their own question of who am I?

What is happening to us? We are struggling to become independent of our parents and at the same time be dependent on them. We sometimes feel out parents do not understand us at all. This is a sign of our insecurity for deep down we are not sure of ourselves. This is when we look to our peers. But at times they will resent our difference from them. This particularly is true if we excel at some aspect of life. Now comes the time when we must realize that the most difficult factor we must accomplish is to be ourselves and appreciate our differences from others. We have come to the place where the opinion of others no longer defines me. At this point you have become an adult with all the responsibilities that this status carries. Now you are ready to seek a purpose for your life. Now your choices will define you.

 

Gene Horne, Council Chaplain.