As much as I like the idea behind the “It get’s better” campaign, it’s hard for me to fully support it. Not just because of Dan Savage or the super monochromatic view on things. It’s that, I don’t believe it’s an accurate assessment of things to come.
For some, it really does get better. For many though, it just get’s different.
There is always a certain air of “I’ll show them” involved in many of these videos and stories. Well, sometimes you won’t show them. Sometimes, you’ll just have a regular job, making regular money while living in the same old regular town. Some of the bullies that you know now will have a wake up call and learn to be decent human beings. Some won’t. Some will haunt you for years to come. Not physically but emotionally. It sucks. It really does.
This is the honest truth of what the current me would tell my seventeen year old self:
High school ending is not what is going to end your pain. It’s going to take almost five years for you to have full days when you don’t think about the people that hurt you. Eventually, those days will turn into weeks. You’ll completely forget. Then, out of the blue, you’ll remember again. Every once in a while you will meet someone who reminds you of someone horrible that you used to go to school with. In some cases you will avoid them and in other cases you will act out angrily. You will feel guilty for acting out against them. Don’t. The reason you are acting out is because you recognize something bad within that person. Don’t fight it. Going against your instincts and trying to be friendly with them will not end well. Go with your gut. Always. You will meet people that you aren’t sure about. Your initial reaction will be to push them away because you won’t understand why they are being kind to you. During this portion of your life, you don’t think you deserve kindness. Don’t worry, the good ones will stick with you. The ones that don’t, weren’t meant to be in your life for any real amount of time anyway.
Stop being so hard on yourself.
Stop spending so much time living with things you wish you’d done differently. That day has past. Stop replaying arguments in your head with the “Corrected” thing you should have said. That argument has already been had. You can’t fix the wording now.
Stop wishing that you’d stood up for yourself more.
Stand up for yourself now.
Stop dreaming of seeing those bullies on the street and finally getting to say what you’ve been wanting to say, leaving them crushed. At this point in time, I can tell you, you haven’t seen them. If you ever do, it’s likely that you’ll roll your eyes and go on with your day hoping that your life is slightly better than theirs. Spoiler alert, you’ll never really know.
Stop wondering if things could have been different. They couldn’t because they can’t. The past is over.
You turned out better than you expected. Happier than you expected and more loved than you expected. You aren’t going to get everything you wanted. You are going to get a lot more than you think you deserve. Life is good. Not great. Not perfect. Not “Better.” It’s just good.
Finally, you should know, you age well!
This is the letter that I would send to myself if I could. I don’t want to discourage anyone or make you think that things won’t eventually get better for you. Your environment will change. Your personality will change. Your world view will change. You will change. Just, don’t expect people around you to change. Some will. Some won’t. I don’t know why people say that time heals all wounds. I still have some that are older than most of the people who will read this. On most days, I fill them up with hobbies and love. They aren’t healed but they are a bit more numb than they once were.
Maybe “Better” shouldn’t be your goal. Just try for “Different.”
Different is good enough.