Whitney Houston’s passing brought an onslaught of media reports reflecting on her meteoric rise to fame, as well as the demons that caused her much sorrow. What stood out to me was just how young she was when the recording, touring, magazine covers, talk shows, and papparazi became part of her daily life. Regardless of her family connections to the world of music, she was still a young girl from Newark, NJ who was singing in her church. It has been reported that she performed on stage a number of times as a backup singer or with her relatives, but she wasn’t thrust into the spotlight as she was when her career began. I wonder how her life might have turned out if she had more time to grow and mature. If she had time to figure out who she was, and what she wanted for herself and her future.
I remember being 18 years old and thinking I knew everything. The adults that were in my life didn’t know what they were talking about, and that I was fully grown. It wasn’t until I hit the age of 25 that I realized I hadn’t known squat at that age. The late teens and early 20s are years when young people are still trying to figure out who they are and where they are going. Values and interests are still developing. There are many times when confusion and decision-making takes over their lives. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood is this period when the individual is mapping out their hopes, dreams, career, and stability. I believe many young people suffer when they are not allowed the freedom to find out where they fit. They need time to think, make mistakes, change their minds, and decide for themselves what they want from life. They need to hang out with friends, get trained, educated, and learn what it is to be a responsible adult slowly. Forcing them into a life of constant chaos does not give them the opportunity to create their future.
Now is a difficult time for young people to live the American dream. Jobs are scarce and expenses are high. The goal is for young people to prosper and become independent. For some that might take longer than others. The one thing that they all have is time. Whitney would have been as good a singer at 25, as she was at 17. Maybe she would have been just as happy singing in her church, as on the world stage. She should have been given more time to grow up and decide. The world could have waited.