Bullying and gay bashing are nothing new, but a lot of us were shocked to learn about a rash of teen suicides related to these phenomena. In the aftermath of these incidents, one of the catch phrases used to encourage LGBT youth to look for help instead of giving up on life was, "It Gets Better."
It gets better for most teens. Most of us can relate to the feeling of being bullied or rejected, to feeling insecure or unpopular, or perhaps just to struggling with schoolwork and feeling we didn't get the help we needed.
But a whole publicity campaign based on the premise that it gets better begs the question, why can't things be better today? Why do we tell kids to hold on and wait for a better tomorrow, instead of working to make them a present day that doesn't make them want to give up on life completely?
And what about the kids who won't make it that long? There are young people who have been killed by bullies. There are those, like the ones killed at Columbine or at the Montreal Massacre, who can't wait for tomorrow to get better.
I wrote a piece for my daughter and for her friends, in hopes that it might help them to create a more positive present day for themselves. Here is an excerpt:
It's a cliche, I know. It's hard enough for a grown woman to do sometimes, so how can I expect a girl of fourteen to figure it out? The answer is simple: you are the only person you can count on to love yourself the way you want to be loved. Don't wait for life to bring love to you on a silver platter; instead make it happen by being your own biggest ally.
Take time to get to know yourself, just as though you were meeting a completely new person for the first time. Celebrate the things you like, work to change the parts you don't like, and always be honest about what you want and need from others. Yes, that means hard work and taking risks. Life ain't easy, so get used to it.