An Ingrained Level of Mistrust

26 08 2010

The other day, I talked about the simplistic beauty of high school – but I recognize not everyone feels that way or had the same high school experience as I did. In fact, this summer, I witnessed an entirely different idea of what it means to be in high school. On my old blog, and even early on in this one, I would sometimes post some of the notable things the teens would say at my job. While I no longer work at the teen program full time, I still consult there at times and true to form, they still provide me with great insight.

This summer was no different.

We decided to change up the way we normally do our magazine workshop this time around. First, instead of creating a printed magazine this summer, we expanded our brand and created a blog. But secondly, and probably much more importantly, we took a day each week to discuss certain topics that we deemed ‘reality mentality.’ Two of those topics were healthy and unhealthy relationships and the concept of fear. Out of both of those conversations, one point kept coming up – not one of them said they trusted anyone.

Now, believe me – I’ve certainly had my fair share of trust issues throughout the years, but it struck me as odd that children between 14 and 18 years old were already at the point of not having a sense of trust in others. Where did it come from? Who could have hurt you that much that at 14 you’re like, “I don’t trust nobody but me… and maybe my mom.”

But that’s what I heard throughout both conversations. Quotes and quotes of mistrust.

“My mom always said you can’t trust nobody but yourself.”

“There ain’t no such thing as trust. That’s something a fool tries to do.”

“Only thing that comes out of you trusting somebody is them showing you how stupid you was for doing that.”

Over and over, they kept saying stuff like that… and there I stood, trying to tell them how you can’t go through life and not trust anyone. How that kind of thinking will leave you unfulfilled. How you can’t even build relationships with people if you don’t trust them, so without trust – you’re basically saying you want to be alone. And the more I tried to tell them how good it was to trust others, the more they shot back with how foolish it was to trust others.

I was at a loss, partly because I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t prepared to have 14-year-olds tell me how they have girlfriends and boyfriends but don’t trust that person. When I was 14, I was so idealistic about the concept of love – you would’ve thought that I spent all my days watching Disney movies. So what was it that had hardened these kids so much? Sure, some of them come from homes where maybe they were taught not to trust someone because he or she wasn’t trustworthy because he or she wasn’t around. Some of them don’t know their fathers or their mothers; some of them live with their grandparents. But that’s not all of them. Even the teens who live with both parents and by society’s standards should be better off – they felt the exact same way. So then what was it? Maybe it was our culture of exposure. We see lies and scandal plastered over the news almost daily. Maybe it was just the cool thing to agree with that day. IDK.

All I do know is that literally, I was the only person in the room out of 25 people who said they believed that trust was essential to living.

And it made me really sad. I was sad that I couldn’t convince them that they were wrong, but I was also sad for what kind of life they would grow up to lead unless they learned that they were wrong. It reminded me of where I was a few years ago and where someone I know is now. At 25, the amount of people I could really say I trusted could be counted on less than two hands. And I was miserable, just as he’s miserable – and just as they will be if they don’t come to realize the importance of trust. When you really think that you can’t trust anyone, that’s a horrible existence. You don’t believe anything anyone says. You don’t expect people to have your back. And you certainly don’t think you can count on anyone when times get rough for you.

How is that living? How do you live without being connected to at least one person?

Anyway, what would you have said in that situation? And is it surprising to you that we may have a generation coming up under us that is being raised to not trust folks? Or do you agree with the teens – is trusting someone only something that a foolish person does?




2 responses

26 08 2010

I asked somebody the other day if they thought today’s teenagers were more paranoid than previous generations. I’m not the most easily trusting person on the planet, but it seems like some of these kids have the FBI and CIA on their trails.

At 15/16 years old, I knew who I should or shouldn’t trust. Come to think of it, I didn’t trust most people back then, especially my family, for very specific reasons. If they’ve experienced the type of people who are in my family, I get it.

26 08 2010

Hey Shara!

It does seem like they think the world is after them, right? I mean I get that family and other experiences can make you not trust everyone, but to feel like you can’t trust anyone – I feel like that’s a bit much for a room full of teenagers. IDK

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