Lance Scranton: Straighten Up!
From the time I entered adolescence, my father, coaches, teachers and those who cared about my future, would constantly remind me about the location of my shoulders in relation to the rest of my body. “Straighten-up,” “quit slumping,” and “stand up straight,” were commonly heard orders. Posture seemed like it would be one of the most defining aspects of my future success and health, at least according to those who were concerned about my future. Standing up straight and looking people in the eye when they were speaking was a constant refrain of parental choruses on responsibility and respect.
It seemed like the least of my concerns growing up that I should straighten up and let others know that I was listening to them by fixing my eyes on theirs. But as time went on I realized the importance of how I carried myself and how I treated those who were speaking to me and as the years have gone by; the position of my shoulders and eyes have become two of the most important aspects of how I see the world around me.
I constantly remind my own sons to stand up straight and give people the attention they deserve when they are speaking. Body language says so much about who we are and how others should treat us and presenting ourselves as someone who should be taken seriously. Shoulders serve a pretty important purpose as a positioning determinant for how we present ourselves to those around us.
Young people are often concerned about how they are treated and why the world is so quick to judge them. One of the difficult lessons in life is that most adults recognize that a young person’s demeanor is signaled through how they carry themselves and their mode of conversation. Too often young people can send a mixed signal to others when they are walking around slumped over and make no attempt to convey their attention to people who are talking to them. I guess it might be cool and some who walks around like they haven’t a care in the world likely don’t have much worth caring about.
Standing up straight and looking at people when they talk to you is, at least, the first step in understanding the realities of life and how we are treated by others is often conveyed by our body language. Life is difficult enough and people tend to want to walk over others who appear weak or disinterested. So, stand up straight the next time you think your being mistreated or judged harshly; look the other person in the eye and make a case for yourself. If you don’t, nobody else is going to shoulder the responsibility for getting you what you want out of life.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.
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