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Keep Your Head Up

Editor Jason Koestenblatt reminisces on what it was like to be a teenager.

Throughout the course of any given week, contributors to Patch sites–from editors to freelance writers and photographers–come in contact with plenty of people while covering assignments.

This past week I had the opportunity to speak with teachers and coaches who work in our local school districts while interviewing and writing stories. I spent part of Monday afternoon talking with West Morris Central boys basketball coach Wayne Shapiro, who also happened to be my eighth grade homeroom and Language Arts teacher at the Long Valley Middle School.

Before we spoke, I took a look around West Morris Central High School, where the coach and I met, and looked back on my days as a student there. That school, where I spent four of my teen years and would begin dating my future wife, Nancy, has a special place in my heart.

Nancy and I often reminisce about our years at Central. We talk about how we felt as teenagers, looking outwardly at the world and assuming it was looking back at us with a condemning eye. We remember complaining about our "vast amount" of responsibilities like homework assignments, being home by curfew, and who to sit with at lunch. We, as teens, always had the thought that there's no way tomorrow could be more treacherous than today.

Nancy and I laugh about our thought processes at that age, and how we'd love to go back in time and actually enjoy our teen years–even more than we did.

But we also know that when you're in "it", you don't know any better. The day you were made fun of because of the bad haircut you just got stung for weeks. That day your parents saw a sub-par grade on your report card made you want to leave the country. Forever.

To adults, being a teen means a lack of responsibility and a surplus of good times. To a teen, though, life can be demanding, scary and full of uncertainty from one minute to the next.

There's a saying in sports that goes something like this: You're never as bad as you look during a losing streak. Thinking about that in non-sports terms, I personally take it as, while today may be rough, and tomorrow's outlook isn't much better, it's really not as bad as you think. You may be in a tough spot, but your situation will get better over time.

All too often we, as a society, learn about the fragility of life and how quickly it can be taken from us. While there are plenty of reasons to be down, discouraged and pained by any day's events, there are a million more reasons to see the good in life and enjoy what has been given to you.

Sometimes, in order to see the positives in life, they need to brought to our attention with the help of others. We need to lean on each other. As a community, we need to support one another and look out for our neighbors. And if you or someone you know can't see the sunlight during a dark time, reach out and ask someone to help you find it.

And try to remember, it's never as bad as it looks during a losing streak. There's always a win just around the corner.

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