Mistakes are part of life

To any teenager reading this who is feeling bullied and harassed or thinks life doesn’t get better after high school — you’re wrong.

To any teenager reading this who is feeling bullied and harassed or thinks life doesn’t get better after high school — you’re wrong. It does. Because as you grow older, you also grow wiser. I know, I know, adults are stupid, but indulge this one a moment and let me whisper a few hard-earned words.

Once you step outside that institutional zoo of hormones gone wild where popularity isn’t judged by the things that matter most: decency, kindness, loyalty, you’ll discover what the meaning of true friendship is.

And in this discovery, you’ll ditch those who you thought were friends simply because they lived nearby or you shared a circumstantial history, for you’ll finally see their true colours and understand their true value. And in their place, you’ll find people who like, love and respect you for you.

In high school, it’s often the oddball or misfit who feels the most alone, and yet these are the very same people who most often change our world for the better. Without dreamers, the world is only two dimensional.

After high school, individuality has value. Kindness has value. Imagination and intelligence have value. The only people who don’t grow are those whose minds stay locked in those empty school hallways and locker rooms, the ones who continue to judge people on physical beauty or the label on their jeans.

As you grow older, you won’t look up to those people, and in fact will wonder why you ever had a tinge of envy or wished you were part of their crowd.

High school is shallow, but you are not.

The reason why so many people turned out to grieve the recent and tragic suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd — including around 150 people who came out to Beacon Hill Park on Friday evening to light candles and talk about bullying — is that, as adults, we understand how easy it is to make a mistake and feel like it will never go away. But it does. Even with the internet, it only has the power that you give it.

As adults, you’ll gain an independence of thought that allows you to stand strong, accept and own your mistakes, and understand that you’re not alone. Some of us continue to screw up well past our teens until the day we reach out a hand and ask for help. And when you ask, that’s when you’ll know the true value of a friend.

As humans, we are flawed and sensitive creatures, and, unfortunately, the most shallow and least interesting tend to become the bullies. Since they can’t see or fathom their own inner light, they have a need to pluck the wings off unformed butterflies.

The best defence against any predator is for the pack to stick together, from the weakest to the strongest, from the shyest to the boldest. Never let the bullies win. But most importantly, hang in there. The future is awesome. M

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