Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Best Years of Your Life

I hated high school. I suffered through it and couldn’t wait to get out of there. Was I bullied? Well, not in today’s terms. But I was a loner, quiet, always with my nose in a book. Not trendy, not particularly pretty, certainly not in the IN crowd. So I endured taunts and ridicule and never got invited to a prom. I persevered.

But when well-meaning people, who really should have known better, would tell me that high school is the best years of your life, I wanted to say, “Are you telling me it doesn’t get any better than THIS??!!” That one phrase probably caused me the most despair during my high school years. Truly, were all those people who threw that phrase around mindlessly the jocks and cheerleaders?? The ones who actually had the good times and went on to lives of vague disappointment?

When I see news reports now of so many young people, gay or straight, taking their lives in despair after being treated cruelly by people who are allowed to wreak misery by uncaring parents and ignorant, lazy school administrations, it hurts my heart. Young people, both the bullies and the bullied, are not being taught to value themselves and others. I know that the teenage years are fraught with self-doubt and low self-esteem but it seems so much more extreme than when I grew up.

Joel Osteen had an interesting analogy today for self-worth. He held up a crisp one hundred dollar bill and asked the congregation if they wanted it. Naturally, they said yes. Did they still want it after he crumpled it up and got it all wrinkled. Yes, sir. What if he took it out to the parking lot, stomped around on it and got it dirty and oil stained? Yup, that hundred dollar bill held it’s value and desirability. That’s a lesson for us all, when we’re feeling at our worst, whether from a day of failures, set backs or cruel behavior from people who don’t know or love us. We hold our value, no matter what fires we walk through.

If you have children or are close to someone else’s children, please tell them that the best years are coming. That, yes, high school sucks for some of us but life gets better for all of us. Even if those kids seem well adjusted and happy, you don’t know what they’re hiding, especially if it’s embarrassing or humiliating and especially from the adults in their lives. You can’t repeat this enough and you can’t stop reminding them of their innate value.

I can only hope that parents, school administrations and social networks can work together to create zero tolerance for bullying and cyberbullying. I applaud anyone who stands up and fights this cruel and deadly behavior.

Do What You Love!

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