I don’t often (read: never) write directly to you, or for you. Mostly, I write for me and for those who I have trouble saying these things to.
This post is for you.
Because we’ve all been there, and some of us may still be there: high school.
Those drama-filled hallways, magazine covered lockers that make us wish we were somewhere, someone else…the monotony of classes, gossip, lunch breaks spent trying to find our place, in the cafeteria, in groups, in life.
When I was in high school, there was no Facebook, Twitter, and I didn’t have a blog or follow the news. But I knew about bullying. I was a bully, and I have been bullied.
In grade one I cut a kids shirt. I reached over with my little plastic handled kiddie scissors and cut a hole in the shoulder of his new shirt.
In grade two when the special-ed kid let me go ahead of him in the pencil sharpener line, then shared his gummy bears with me, I loudly and deliberately snubbed his offer.
I broke a kids nose in grade 6 during a race. And when he fell to the ground I just kept on running.
I trashed-talked on the basketball court throughout Jr. high, even when (and maybe because) our team was at the top of the league.
In grades 11 and 12 I stopped being involved with people, and let my few friends get pushed around, made fun of. I would show up, but then step back and watch the fights.
What this does not tell you, is that in high school I hated myself so much that I replaced facts with lies, and acted a part that I knew would push people away. When I was twelve I experienced my first bout with depression.
What this does not tell you, is that the emotional stresses I felt at home in elementary school, I took out on myself – my favourite clothes cut to shreds, homework covered in black-hole spiral doodles and eyes, and I quit writing.
The story of high school is the same, though it has more layers – Twitter, Facebook, blogs – being a teenager sucks, and sticks and stones do matter.
Is there a way to avoid the spiral of self-hatred that is caused by, or turns us into, bullies? I don’t know, but Josh Barkey, (starving) artist, writer, blogger, parent, wants to tackle this question in film. He lives in a shed in North Carolina where he makes art, not money and so needs our help. The film, Locker 212, has a Kickstarter campaign where you are invited to “[explore] how making real, human connections with our most lost and hurting kids can help us alleviate the bullying and violence that have plagued our schools.”
So I write you this letter because I believe everyone, at some point, has been on one side or the other of that coin. And hopefully, come out okay on the other side. If you have, but know someone who didn’t – or wonder if someone you know won’t – or feel for the families in the news, consider donating to this film, consider liking, sharing, tweeting or reblogging Locker 212.
Spread the word. Six degrees of separation, and all that.
Next time less pitch, more poetry, I swear.