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Connecting with other people is scary business, and never more so than in middle school. When reputations are fragile and insecurity is the name of the game, being genuine is a truly dangerous step.

There are two things I can do about this, as an animator:

  1. I can alleviate the danger. I can build a micro-community in which trustworthiness is the norm, in which goodness and enthusiasm and truthfulness are admired, rather than exploited as weakness.
  2. I can help the youth to rise to the challenge. To accept the danger inherent in our culture, and develop the courage, strength, and detachment to live good lives in spite of it.

Of course, there’s always option three: pretend, like most adults do, that the danger doesn’t exist. Because the work that needs to be done to counteract it is itself frightening.

It’s a dangerous business, opening yourself up to caring about other people. Being an animator means learning to be brave.

photo credit: chrisinplymouth via photopin cc