There are moments, moments that always feel far too frequent, when something shakes our world a little (or a lot), both devastating our hearts and creating pause. It’s in those moments of pause when silence can become deafening, and all of the pointless chatter happening around us goes quiet so deeper perspective can take root.
This past week I followed on my Facebook feed as the community I grew up in, and a school so close to the hearts of my family and friends, turned itself inside out searching for one of their own. They came together as a community only to be rocked completely. A 13 year old boy who was so distraught over overdue class assignments and an overly manufactured sense of failure left his home and took his own life. And unfortunately, this has become far too common.
There are a million different things to speculate, to wonder, and on some level to even relate to, because we’ve all been in a situation at one point or another where it seems almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What that light looks like and how we get to it is going to be different for all of us, and for some, especially those who have battled or known the despair of a deep depression, the end may be that light. I know all of this, but I still can’t help but feel the extra weight of this tragedy today. Today my mind kept coming back to a few thoughts I could not shake; things that I wish everyone not only was reminded of, but also deeply believed in.
1. Outside of doing your best, nothing you do in school really matters. Seriously, not really even college. All of those years are meant to give you time to develop, to create context, and to allow you to grow — not to determine your lifelong potential. Be open to learning, be open to exploring your interests, and of course working hard, but your whole job is to discover your own passion and hopefully start to live it. Learning what makes you tick, what keeps you motivated, and what your strengths are will be more important in our life than any class, or test, or assignment in the world.
2. Be open to failure. Failure and struggle are the experiences that give our stories content, that teach us our most important lessons, and help us find the grittiness in ourselves that confidence can stand on. Find any person that you think has succeeded and ask them about where they failed — believe me, they’ll not only have some good stories, they’ll also be able to draw a direct line from what they learned to all of their subsequent successes.
3. You have value. Truly, you. are. valuable….invaluable really, so don’t you ever let anyone or anything ever tell you differently. There’s a horrible epidemic of kids who grow up looking for their value in other people, in things, or in money, and as adults we have a responsibility to instill in them the confidence and understanding that value is inherent, and not externally found.
4. Don’t take life so seriously. Sure, life is a serious business, but sometimes it’s the ability to shake off all the unnecessary pressure and manufactured stress and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is. Whether you’re in the build, the struggle, or the victory lap of your life, live through every moment and appreciate what’s available to you in that moment. Truly, if you’re alive and your heart is beating for something, you’re already succeeding, so find joy in the path.
I could go on, and I probably will at another time, in several different installments, but for today, this is what I’ve got. So, thanks for letting me rant, feel, and write my way through what makes no sense and all the sense in one messy package. And, most importantly, may that sweet boy’s soul rest in peace.