I grew up in the 1960s. The pace was slower, and it was easier to make friends. Kids growing up today have it a lot harder. From the time they can walk they are competing with their peers. Young people today don't want to show any weakness, or they might get bullied.

And if their parents are busy, or not involved, it can be pretty lonely.

I know this will sound dumb, but hey, young man or young woman, if things get too hard, so hard you don't know why you should keep trying, and keep failing, there are older people who care about you and your problems. Lots of us.

Older people join churches and community organizations for many different reasons, but one reason is to help other people.

Every church in town has someone who is dedicated to helping young people. Don't worry that they will try to force you to join their church, or force you to believe in stuff you just don't believe in. Some might, but others are there just to help people who need someone to talk to, someone to listen without pretending to know all the answers.

I belong to a church that is going through some rough times right now. But the truth is that most Catholics are disgusted by what has happened, embarrassed and ashamed, and are doing what we can to get things right, and to help those who have been hurt.

If you're a young person who questions where your place is in this world, and has doubts about your worth as a human being, please come to one of our services on Saturday or Sunday. Or go to services at another one of the dozens of fine churches in Tehachapi. Or stop by the church office during the week. Ask to speak to someone about, well, you don't even have to say why.

There are people in each of these churches who want to spend time with people in times of transition or times of questioning, and will make the time to listen.

But you need to take that first step.

Walk up to the friendliest looking person you see, and introduce yourself. We don't have anything better to do than get to know you.

Come as you are. No need to dress up. Just be friendly yourself. Also, many churches have an emergency phone number on their website. For St. Malachy's, call the main number and listen for the religious emergency number. It's at the end of the message.

Most of us older folks needed some help at some earlier point in our lives. Now it's your turn.

— Brian Scott, Tehachapi