It Always Gets Better

22 May
It Gets Better

It Gets Better

I am a great admirer of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign.  It is the purest form of social change.  It is grassroots, initiated by a concerned advocate in response to the increased news reports of gay teens committing suicide in response to intense bullying.  I previously wrote my thoughts on the case of poor young Tyler Clementi, who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge during his first semester of college, after his roommate broadcast video of him making out with another man. Tyler Clementi was a gifted violinist- he could have done so much.
At age 18, right when his life was starting, he cut things short.

When you’re 18, do you know who you are? Do you have any idea who you will become, or what you will want out of life?  To a certain degree you do.  You have lived almost 20 years, and you have a range of experiences, you have made friends, begun to develop an outlook on the world, and have perhaps had a romantic relationship or two. But life is still wide open, and your future is a blank slate.  You could still be anything.  I know that I felt that I only truly felt that I had grown comfortable in my own skin during my four years of college. And even now, at age 30, I realize that I was still incredibly young in college.  I feel that I’ve matured a lot.

I am not gay.  But I wish every adolescent and teenager could know deep down that life gets better. In middle school and high school, I had a really difficult time. In middle school, there was a guy who pretended to throw up in disgust every time he saw me in the hallway. During my first two years of high school- a private one, where I knew almost no one on my first day- I had virtually no friends, eating many lunches alone. Junior and senior years were somewhat easier, because I found a group of fellow freaks and geeks to hang out with. But at a school were football and cheerleading dominated, acting in the fall play and writing for the school newspaper were not activities that were lauded by the whole community.  Are school rallies EVER held for the arts department, or the yearbook committee? I suffered from severe acne, and was insecure about boys.  All in all, it was an awkward time, and I ached to start a new life in college.  College started, and things got better.

Age thirty isn’t necessarily a magic line in the sand where full wisdom and maturity are reached and we stop growing.  I know I am not done growing.  Life has ups and downs; at least now I have lived enough to know this.  During my happiest moments I remember that sadness has crept into my life.  In the depth of my saddest times, I remember that happiness returns.  There is a quote by Albert Camus that I love: “In the depths of winter I learned there was in me an invincible summer”.

Which is all a long way of saying that it gets better.  And yes, the “it” is life.  I am an optimistic person- I believe that without hope, life is not worth living.  So we must believe that it gets better.  Because it does.

4 Responses to “It Always Gets Better”

  1. ezzylanguzzi May 23, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Life does get better. Believe it or not, even better in your forties. Any kind of suicide, whether teen or adult, is a tragedy, particularly when it’s the result of bullying. I wish I knew the answer to prevention. Is it more adult involvement? Positive role models. Maybe what we all need is a mentor at every stage of our life to tell us, “Yes, it gets better, and let me tell you how.”

    • lebanexican May 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      I briefly mentioned school priorities, but it is a shame that school rallies are held to celebrate certain sports but not others, and virtually all other forms of student achievement are relegated to the backpages of the yearbook. It would be nice if the science fair winners, essay contest winners, musicians and others received similar praise.
      And yes, one of the very least things we can do is tell people that life gets better.

  2. Lenore Diane May 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    How does life get better? It gets better because you care less what people think about you, and you care more about what you think about yourself. You realize, as you age, time is fleeting, so you invest in yourself, while taking the time to care for others. Care for others – which is different than caring how others judge.
    Yes, life does get better – and that is how it gets better.
    (Great post!!) ~ Lenore

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