I'm half adult.
Even when I was a very little girl, grown-ups would tell my mom, "Wow, Genevieve is so mature." And I guess I can understand why they would say this. I was very polite, calling them "Mr." and "Mrs." and responding to their questions in very calm and at times, absurdly nice ways. I could even, having observed my parents' conversations, discuss the ways of the world including the latest (G-rated) movies and even, to some degree, politics. It was, in a way, a very formulaic way of interaction. "What courses are you taking in school?" And I'd talk eloquently about that. "Do you like your teachers?" Of course, some and, of course, some not. And I'd talk eloquently about that. The politics of the day? My passion for what was going on in the world. All fodder for the conversation mill. And an instant road to being...or at least, seeming..."mature." Easy. At least in comparison with learning how to make friends with my peers. That route was much more laborious and much more fraught with potholes and slippery slopes and, in fact, failure. Being "cool" was arbitrary and what was "cool" changed more quickly than I could. The girls I wanted to be friends with often ended up mean and competitive; the boys sloppy and loud. My reaction, as a lonely sixth grader, was to avoid risking rejection by those I longed to be accepted by, by reading in a corner or playing alone on the monkey bars for the entire recess.
But just look at me now. Really grown up and really mature. Because now I think enough of myself to allow me to make mistakes. I'm mature enough to be vulnerable and make friends with people my age no matter their level of "coolness." Coolness, in fact, doesn't influence me at all, anymore. Which has come at the perfect time since I no longer have enough upper body strength to make it up and down the monkey bars successfully.
But some things have stayed the same. I still thrive in a world that is primarily occupied by adults, which, for me, is the world of entrepreneurship and non-profit advocacy. This world is, in fact, the world in which I discovered my true passion: SLAP'D... Surviving Life After A Parent Dies. More than my passion, SLAP'D is, in truth, my antidote to almost unconquerable pain. It developed after my father's death from drowning in his successful attempt to save two young boys floundering in Lake Michigan. My grief was intolerable until I directed its energy into building a social media for teens like me who have or had lost a parent, a venue for us all to help each other. SLAP'D took me on a fulfilling, grief mitigating journey of meeting new mentors, and other teens who, like me, had lost a parent at a very vulnerable time. It helps all of us to become stronger and to direct our grief toward constructive, creative thinking.
This column reflects the many facets of my life, hopefully a life of empathy and constructive problem solving.