These kids make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Every Tuesday and Thursday, as we congregate around our usual table, I can’t wait to hear the anecdotes they’ve saved up in the days since I last spent time with them. Blunt and hysterical, self-deprecating and downright silly, I’m consistently awed. At twelve and thirteen years old, they are already natural storytellers.

Even though we’ve only spent a few weeks working with these students, I’ve already learned so much from the way in which they choose to tell their stories. From tripping down the stairs to accidentally texting the boy they insist they don’t like – every memory becomes an opportunity to make their friends laugh.

Though they could easily and understandably resort to negativity and bitterness when faced with life’s daily challenges, the girls I’ve been lucky enough to meet refuse to be defeated so easily. Instead, they navigate through an age that many adults would rather forget with a sense of humor that makes them fearless.

Sparing no details, they share with me their frustrations, embarrassments, and triumphs. Together, we commiserate or celebrate. They tease each other lovingly, poking fun until everyone is belly laughing or pouting with gleeful indignation. They temper hardship with humor, and it’s an attitude I’ve come to admire and aspire to.

Though the proverbial ‘grown up’ is always grumbling about how kids these days think they’re invincible, the truth is they kind of are. As long as they can laugh in the face of obstacles, turning each one into a story, they’re unconquerable.

Dani Wallace is a junior English and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies major.