Can I tell you about the AWESOME class that I had today? As it is September 11th, I started by watching a video of footage from 9/11/01 set to "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?" by Andrew Jackson. Then, I asked students to share not 'where they were,' but rather, "How has your life/the world been effected by September 11th?"
The answers were...wonderful. These students, now juniors and seniors in college, were grade schoolers in 2001. Imagine being a 7-10 year old and realizing something awful had happened, and seeing the heartbreak in your parents' lives - but not understanding. Some of my students lived in New York and New Jersey and had friends that lost parents. Some of my students have parents in the military who have since served multiple deployments. One was completely sheltered from the reality of the events. One recognizes that the effects of 9/11 may be that he will be drafted.
It was such a touching experience to share with them as they process what these events mean to them now, and how they have experienced life. Many mentioned that they felt their innocence shattered. One mentioned that because all she's known is a heightened sense of awareness that she is almost apathetic toward what happens around the world.
Several others talked about anxiety and fear that surrounds them any time they wait to board a plan or go through security at an airport. That statement made me wonder...if we think about our youth, they are much more anxious than youth of the past. I believe that we've seen an increase in anxiety disorders...and I wonder if there is a correlation.
It was interesting to share my experience with them because when the attacks happened, I was their age - in their seats. I was a 21-year-old facing my senior of college - and all the unknowns that come with it. One of my preceptors had said that it would be really interesting to experience 9/11 on a college campus - surrounded by all those people.
Yet, what I remember is feeling so alone. Yes, there were a lot of people around; yes, there were vigils; yes, there were prayer meetings. But...I felt alone. There was so much unknown in the first few hours - and the idea that something terrible had happened, that the world had just crashed - yet, here we were - living, breathing, experiencing a sunny September day - seemed so out of place.
My sense of security is my family; yet they felt so far away. My friends had no more answers than I. In that feeling of such loneliness, I spent the afternoon praying and doing a Bible study entitled "Becoming a Woman of Purpose." I think that response helped me handle the unknown, the loneliness, and the anxiety that would follow being an emerging adult in a situation entirely foreign and full of trepidation...with a sense of purpose. It certainly wasn't easy, but I felt like I had an anchor in spite of tumultuous waves.