by Jennifer Dyer
Matthew West‘s inspiration for his latest album came from letters written by his fans. One such letter was about a lonely and isolated boy trying to survive middle school and the mean-spirited, bullying comments that many of his classmates toss in his direction. My heart when out to that boy, as he could be any one of us.
High school and middle school were some of the hardest years of my life, and I still revisit those days occasionally. In my nightmares. I’m usually in my pajamas and looking for a bathroom, only to discover the one and only facility available is in the middle of the student-packed gymnasium. With no walls. Ack!
So, how to make it through the piranha-infested waters of middle and high school? How to make it through the seasons of being a bully target? I’ve already suggested becoming involved in extra-curricular activities and service projects outside of school, so today I want to talk about keeping perspective.
A few months ago I developed an infection that almost took my life. In a moment of near death I prayed to live, for the will to live. And in that same moment I knew it would be hard. I just didn’t know how hard.
How did I make it, at least mentally? Prayer, lot’s of prayer, and perspective. I told myself that it would not last forever even though it felt like it might. My parents, sister, and husband told me the same. I kept my focus on what was important: my children and my family. In the moments where the treatments were akin to torture, and I felt as though my surgeon was the meanest bully on the planet, I thought of my many reasons to survive. And I reminded myself that the pain would not last forever.
So, it is with the teen years. I had many ups and downs–more downs–but in retrospect, it was such a brief time in my life. Today I can think of high school as a mere, but smelly, subway stop where I had to wait until time to go to college and begin the rest of my life, which I have enjoyed very much, cancer and all.
So, whether you are a teen or the parent of a teen trying to navigate through this time in your life, keep your perspective. Parents, help your child keep their perspective. Remind them that the world is a much bigger place than the walls of their schools. Life has different seasons and many subway stops, if you will. Don’t allow difficulties, including difficult people, to make you or your child feel trapped. Keep the perspective that in a few years everything will change.