Read an Excerpt
The Truth About Dating, Love & Just Being Friends
And How Not to be Miserable as a Teenager Because Life is Short, and Seriously, Things Don't Magically Get Better After High School and Lots of Other Important Stuff, But We'll Get to that Later ...
By Chad Eastham
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Chad Eastham
All rights reserved.
WHAT'S UP, MILLEYS?
Do you know what large bird buries its head in the sand? The ostrich, right? No. Wrong. There has never been a single documented account of the largest bird in the world burying its head in the sand.
It was a guy named Pliny the Elder, a Roman historian, who most likely mistook his observation of the giant bird. What really happens is that the bird lies down on the ground, usually on its nest, and flattens its neck out, so that it can scan the horizon and look for predators. Pliny also thought that the ostrich could stare at its eggs with such intensity that it would make them hatch. Really, man? 'Cause that seems logical.
So what's the point with the ostrich? The point is that we make all kinds of observations about all kinds of things. Some are right, some not so much. For example, people say things all the time about teens and their habits, opinions, and lifestyles. And they love to talk about how texting makes you dumb. Not true. It does, however, make you a horrible driver. So please ... stop trying to kill pedestrians!
Although it's not good to text and drive, it is good to make observations. It can be helpful to know the habits of the people you are traveling through life with. Not so you can be like everyone else, but so you can at least know some of the things that make you a part of the group. Just keep an open mind and make careful observations. I mean, you don't want to be an ostrich trying to bury its head in the sand only to find out that you aren't supposed to do that. Mainly because you would suffocate, and you would be a bald bird.
Traveling the Teen Highway
You may not know this about yourself, but right now you're on the road to somewhere. Do you know where you're going? No? Well, that could be a bad thing, but it's not necessarily. Being uncertain of where you are going doesn't make you lost. I mean, I guess it sometimes does, obviously. But not always. Sometimes it's okay to not know exactly where you are headed, at least not right away. This kind of represents your teen years in a lot of ways. You are figuring stuff out. You don't have to have it all "figured out" already. Big distinction. You are on a journey, and that is the adventure of it.
On any journey, it's helpful to observe the other journeyers traveling with you. It would be sad to be hiking along in the woods for years and never see the fifty other people hiking along with you just a few feet away. Then one day you suddenly see them, and you're like, "Oh man, have you been out here the whole time? Seriously? We probably could have talked and shared some beef jerky or trail mix or something, you know. How did I not see you?"
It's sad when people do that. 'Cause it's fun to travel with others, especially when you are all on the same journey. So let's check out a few facts about your fellow life travelers.
A Snapshot of Your Generation
Maybe you hate computers. Maybe you love texting. Maybe you grew up in a religious and/or spiritual environment. Maybe you want to wait until you have seen Africa and Europe before you have children. Maybe you have kissed a lot of people or have even messed around. Maybe you just hold hands and are saving your first kiss until you are married. You could be a capitalistic, youth-group fanatic who loves Jesus and Republicans, or you could be a person who couldn't care less about politics. Maybe you love aardvarks. Get my drift? You could add twenty-five more categories of likes and dislikes, and you might be on either side of any of them. Either way, you simply fall into a very mixed bag of young people who have been born since the 1980s.
You are the Millennial Generation. Or as I sometimes like to call you, the Milleys. But I'm not great at nicknames.
And while you are unique and special—just like everyone else—there are a lot of things you and your peers may have in common, or not. So here is a little snapshot that describes some, only some, of you and the people in your "generation."
Sorry, You're Labeled
The Millennial Generation is meant to refer to those born from about 1980 until just after 2000. This means that you are the first generation of people who will become adults in a new millenium—the 2000s. The people before you are referred to as Generation X; they were born from 1965 to about 1980. Actually, I'm in the Millennial Generation with you, although I teeter on the edge of Generation X.
Before Generation X, we had the Baby Boomer Generation, which many of your parents fall into. Baby Boomers were born after World War II when everyone went on a baby-making crusade and moved to the suburbs. This was the age of the "white picket fence" and the mom who always had dinner ready for the family, which she cooked while wearing a dress and an apron. Not something you identify with much. Before that, there was the Silent Generation, which includes adults born from 1928 through 1945. The Silent Generation were the children of the Great Depression and World War II. Their title referred to their conformist views (that means just going along with the crowd) and their loyalty to politics. The Greatest Generation were the adults who fought in World War II, and the Lost Generation was the generation before that; they fought in World War I. So, you see, generations—like people—have different personalities. That's the simple way of saying it.
Why is this important, Chad? I'm starting to get bored.
It's important because YOU, the Millennials, are creating your own personality as well. You are thought to be very expressive, more liberal than other generations, open to new ideas and change, and more confident and upbeat than other generations.
And while you are more diverse, both in ethnicity and in culture than older adults, your generation is, in general, less religious. You are less likely than other generations to serve in the military. You are also on track to be the most educated generation in American history. Yippee, right? I mean, the access to information is not even comparable to what it was fifty years ago. What's up, Internet?
You are the first generation to have a full-on romantic relationship with your phones, computers, and any other media-based digital device that becomes the latest and greatest craze. You—both guys and girls—are much better at multitasking than any other generation in the history of the world. I mean, who has just an alarm clock by their bed? You have a phone with Internet access and an alarm clock on it. That way you can tell the time and make sure you are updated instantly if Jeff posts that he just watched a funny video on YouTube, and then you can call your best friend about it. Earth-shattering news like that can't wait more than three minutes to be told, after all.
This also leads to a lifestyle of "convenience" habits that aren't always smart. Like driving and doing anything else while you're driving! More than two-thirds of teens admit to texting while driving. Just drive! You are going to kill someone! Don't hit my grandma; she's little!
Here are some more interesting and unique things about the people you're growing up with:
* More than 75 percent of teens have created a profile on a social networking site. Although most do still place privacy boundaries on their profiles. (Good idea, by the way.)
* One in five teens has posted a video of themselves online.
* Almost 40 percent of Millennials have a tattoo; 18 percent have six or more. I don't have one. Please make sure your parents don't yell at me as though I said for you to go get a dragon tattoo or the Chinese symbol for tambourine. Thanks.
Technology Use for Teens
* 87 percent of teens use the Internet.
* 74 percent of teens who use the Internet also instant message.
* 81 percent of teens on the Internet play games online.
* 43 percent of teens have bought things on the Internet. (I do love Amazon.)
* 20 percent of teens say the Internet is their primary tool for communication.
* 37 percent use instant messaging to say something they would not or could not have said in person or over the phone. (So not a good idea.)
* 50 percent of teens have sent a message to a stranger. (Also not a good idea.)
On paper, you are the least religious American generation ever known. About 25 percent of young people are unaffiliated with any religion. However, not belonging does not necessarily mean you don't believe in God. Teens pray as often as older generations did when they were teens. But today's teens seem to want to understand God as he applies to their lives directly, more than just understanding God and religion from a place of theology.
Roughly 60 percent of young people today were raised by both parents, which is a smaller percentage than other generations. But in contrast to that statistic, Milleys place marriage and parenthood above both financial and career success. That says something. But it doesn't say that you are in a hurry to get married. The average age of newlyweds is now over twenty-six years old, and that number is increasing slightly and will probably level off at around age thirty. The number of unmarried women who are having babies has also gone up. (Something that will have big implications for your kids one day.)
About 20 percent of youth will experience depression sometime during their teenage years. Eating disorders are another common issue surrounding teens and young adults. Although a lot of attention is given to it, the incidence of eating disorders among girls is actually lower than you might think: anorexia is around 1 to 2 percent, although in a particular school or community the number can be much higher. Bulimia is estimated to affect 2 to 3 percent of young people. These lower percentages are good news for young people.
Attitudes on Dating and Sexual Activity
* 47 percent of teens in grades nine through twelve have had sex. But the flip side of this statistic is often not reported. It means that about 53 percent of teens, or the majority, are not having sex.
* Less than 10 percent of boys or girls have initiated sexual intercourse before age fourteen.
* 66 percent of teens in grades nine through twelve said they were abstinent—and had been for at least three months prior to their answer.
* Just over half of the fifteen- to nineteen-year-old group has had oral sex.
* By age seventeen, a majority of teens said that intercourse is an accepted part of dating relationships. However ... that is likely a ref lection of their pessimism about relationships, given that more than 80 percent of girls and more than 65 percent of guys who have had sex say they regret it. That's the vast majority, by the way. Time to rethink the sex issue, huh? Don't worry; we will later.
* It is also acceptable to be unattached—and a large majority of teens say that they don't place much significance on dating relationships.
* Teens age thirteen to fourteen (82 percent) are almost as likely as older teens (92 percent) to have had a boyfriend or girlfriend.
* Half of preteens and teens said their parents had never discussed how to say no to sex.
* About 50 percent of teens said their parents had never told them about sexually transmitted diseases.
* Teens who say they can talk to their parents about sex are actually less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
Something that is super interesting about the Millennial Generation is that you are increasingly less fearful of cities. So much so that you want to move back to them. For the first time since around the late 1940s, people are starting to flock back to the cities to live—even those people who are from small towns and midsized communities. Your generation is more inclined to see the metro-urban appeal of life after high school and college.
A lot of this has to do with the ability to travel more easily. Just getting from point A to point B is much easier compared to fifty years ago. But the traveling between cultures also comes much more easily to the Milley Generation. You are much more accepting of the different races and ethnic mixes that are more likely to be found in cities.
I, personally, would like to have both an apartment in Manhattan and a farm somewhere out in nowhere. I like both sorts of places for different reasons. I don't have either of those places; I would just like to. What about you?
Help Me Help You
All of these snapshots describe you in some way. Some describe who you are, and some of them describe who you are not. They are just snapshots of some of the habits of teens around you. Maybe your opinions about dating and love are completely different from anyone else's. But they might be something like one of these ...
Or, you could paint an entirely unique picture of a person in your generation. And people do every day. Here's one I'm sure is unique. She is so unique that she speaks a language I can't even understand. I have read this letter more than twenty times, and every time it's like setting off a bomb in my brain!
Yeah ... soooooo good luck with that. Although I do think she managed to mix in more than half the topics from this book into one gigantic paragraph.
Like I said, we have some similarities, but we are all different.CHAPTER 2
DATING, FACTOIDS, AND QUARK-GLUON PLASMA
Do you know how many states of matter there are? Solid, liquid, and ...? Gas, right? Well, not exactly. You should also include plasma, superfluid, non-Newtonian fluids, supersolids, neutronium, quark-gluon plasma, fermionic condensate, Bose-Einstein condensate, and strange matter, along with others that are even more boring sounding.
Take non-Newtonian fluids, for example. They are liquids that turn solid when stress is applied. The military is designing jackets made of this fluid. Think about what that means. The jacket has this non-Newtonian liquid in it, but if someone shoots you, the impact of the bullet on the liquid would make it solid and keep the holes out of your body. This practically laughs in the face of physics.
Or imagine this: a pool is filled with this liquid, so that it looks like a giant tub of white paint. If you stepped slowly into it, you would sink and end up covered with this slimy, wet goo. But if you were to run onto it, or jump onto it and start jogging around, you wouldn't sink. With the added friction and weight, the fluid becomes harder, almost like a glossy, thick Play-Doh, and you can walk right across it, without ever getting any on you. That pool already exists, by the way. You can even look it up on YouTube. Weird, but fascinating.
Sometimes there are things that are more complex than we have been led to believe. Like the states of matter. And like dating. For example, how would you answer this letter?
This is a good question. How would you answer it? And does your answer work for everyone? Is your answer based on your experience, or just your opinion? I also like Betsy's question because it brings to light a lot more questions, like ...
* What does "going out for eight months" look like?
* How can you tell "friend" feelings from "romantic" feelings?
* How do people with different views of God work out their relationship?
* How do you break up with someone and not turn him or her off to what you say you believe about God?
* Why do some people get crushes on more than one person at once? Is that right, wrong, healthy, or what?
Let's pump the brakes on all the questions for a minute and start with an even more basic question, like, "Where does dating even come from?"
The History of Dating
Please Stop Capturing Me!
At many points in our early history, there was no dating. In fact, if you were a girl, you would simply be captured. Men would often raid a neighboring village and take the women as wives, skipping the whole dating thing altogether, which probably made it less than enjoyable around the family dinner table.
Because the former husbands or brothers of the women who were captured often came looking for them, the women would be forced into a cave with their new husbands and hidden there throughout a full phase of the moon while being given a brew called metheglin, which is made from honey. Combine the moon and the honey drink and bam, new term. Thus, honeymoon. Sounds like a blast. Maybe it should have been called honey-kidnapping.
Let's Get Medieval
Later, once people got out of the caves, and honor and chastity were held in higher regard in most of Europe, a guy would impress a girl by opening doors for her—rather than just grabbing her and dragging her through the door and off to a cave. Much better for conversation. Kind of shows that when society emphasizes certain behaviors, the people tend to fall in line with them. But while there was some wooing and courting, marriages were usually arranged by the parents.
Excerpted from The Truth About Dating, Love & Just Being Friends by Chad Eastham. Copyright © 2011 Chad Eastham. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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