I sobbed, not because of 19th-century feminism. I wept because my classmates are now adults.
Competition among classmates, regardless of the friendships in between, is a real struggle. The pressure to succeed pushes students to view their friends as rivals. Who has a higher GPA? Who balances the most extracurriculars? This natural feeling gets the best of us, and I thought it would get the best of me while I watched our school’s production of Blue Stockings. I was worried, consumed by guilt, that I would express jealousy towards the cast’s accomplishments— my friends’ accomplishments.
But there is something greater than jealousy, even in the world of high-achieving teenagers: awe.
Awe is defined (by Google) as a “feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” Although I have felt that way before while listening to speeches, during a Broadway play, or while reading a book, I wasn’t expecting to leave the Lanny Naegelin Theater with tears down my face and urgency to yell at the cast that they are great and essential; and that they deserve the spotlight, and the eight dollars I paid (multiplied by a million); and that I cried— sobbed.
Through my years of coexisting with older generations, I have developed a hypothesis: adults tolerate teenagers under the condition that teens acknowledge their inferiority. Here is an example:
Scenario 1: Pedro
“Dad, I feel prepared and mature enough to drive independently.”
Scenario 2: James
“Dad, even though I understand that my frontal lobe is underdeveloped, which makes me stupid, I want to drive because I would be helping the family.”
Guess who secured the deal? James.
And what changed? Nothing. James thinks the same thing as Pedro, but James plays the game.
Justification is necessary when your actions don’t prove to authority figures that you are competent enough. But I believe the Blue Stockings cast deserves a free pass into adulthood.
If you can carry yourself, educate yourself; if you can bear the responsibilities of putting up a show about such an important topic, and do it with such strength and delicacy, molding your words and tone to produce that chill down the audience’s back; when you do this and still go to school; and still believe in effort, then, under my standards, you are above. You deserve my awe. You have won.
Every day I walk into class, I see the cast sitting down like normal humans. How inconsiderate to disguise themselves as regular people. But I also noticed that one of the reasons their acting was on point is that they weren’t really acting. The passion was theirs, not the characters’. The desire for knowledge is in them, not written in the lines of a play.
Overall, I know that we don’t have to worry about the theater department. All of them are going places. Let them be important without justifying their frontal lobes.