This entry makes the third blog post I have “in progress.” I hope this one sees the light of the Interwebs ….
I’ve avoided the “It Gets Better” messages until today because I knew I would get emotional. But my friend @rustypup tweeted a link to one message that she really liked.
On one hand is the bullying issue. Frankly, any kid who’s the littlest bit different is vulnerable to adolescent bullying. I was pretty ruthlessly picked on from about first through eighth grades by some kid named Derek because I was the only girl in school with short hair.
The bigger issue is that those differences — in the best of circumstances — make us afraid. That niggling fear quickly turns into insecurity. Add a layer of bullying (or even typical old fashioned teasing), and that’s where destructive behaviors begin, I think.
Personally, religion is how I found happiness as a teenager. When confronted with serious challenges and questions about my religion, that happiness dissipated, and my first struggles with real depression emerged. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was biologically inclined to depression and anxiety, but that was another layer that added to self-destructive behavior. I shared this with my childhood best friend who reassured me that I wasn’t wack-a-doodle nutty buckets. She actually had a serious solution for me, which I disregarded because I assumed that I’d have all the time in the world to act on it. And then she died. What I decided at that time was that I did not deserve to eat.
I know that I’m not that the only person from my adolescence who lived through some serious insecurity. I knew girls who had abortions, suffered from bulimia, attempted suicide, drank excessively, and endured every other form of self-torture we can inflict on ourselves. And me? I just starved myself. (What?! I said “just.”)
The crucial message of the “It Gets Better” campaign is this: Hang in there long enough to experience enough of the good stuff to outweigh the bad. Also? There is always someone happy to care about you and what you’re going through.
That’s a lesson that took me a little longer to learn. I convinced myself for a big chunk of my college days that I was so different that no one from my adolescence could ever care about the real me. Later, I believed that my family couldn’t love the “real me” — whoever she is.
If I could speak to my 14-year-old self, I would tell her, “It gets better. Your family loves you. The prophet Jeremiah spoke with God who said, “In the womb I knew you.’ You were born for a purpose — and that includes everything about you.”
My biggest fear is that people — and frankly, some family members — so intwine religion and politics that the “gay” issue of the “It Gets Better” campaign becomes more prominent than the “stop people from committing suicide” issue.
Kids don’t kill themselves because they’re gay. They kill themselves because they’re different, and they’re afraid (or have evidence) that the people they love, trust, and rely on will condemn them for their differences or insecurities. One other thing I would tell my 14-year-old self? No sin, difference, or insecurity prevents you from speaking with God with a sincere heart.