You’ve either already begun or are just about to begin.Some of you might feel like a hamster, just spinning wheels in this maddening machine of sameness — like life is some kind of stage, and everyone’s stuck playing the same parts — and your part is one of those sucky ones, or you feel like an understudy, a sidekick, or somebody just forgot to ask you to join the play. And then the days pass by in some kind of time warp where everything feels eternal.
So I wish I were a genie to give you all these wishes, the ones I wish for you for today (and every day):
1. I wish you a true friend. You don’t need a thousand followers on Instagram. One true friend is more than most can say they have. Being a true friend takes love, courage, loyalty, forgiveness … so much wonderful in one word.
2. I wish you a place where you can eat lunch, whether it’s at a cafeteria table with friends, in the library, in your favorite math teacher’s class — someplace where you don’t have to keep your guard up. Someplace where you can exhale.
3. I wish you kindness. I hope you receive it and give it. Be kind. Not just NICE but kind. Because the world, your school, is full of meanness and bullies, and, for lack of a better term, ass hats. You don’t need to add to that. Be someone’s rainbow. Smile at that kid down the hall whose locker always gets jammed. You know the kid whose bangs flop in his eyes, the one just hoping that nobody will notice he’s there. Notice him. Smile at him. Be kind.
4. I wish you strength. It’s not easy living through Suckville every day. And some days, I’m sure, you feel like you won’t make it. You will. It will get better. It really will get better. It gets better, I promise.Did I mention it gets better?
5. I wish you grit. Grit?? You are not a test score. Tests don’t score kindness, integrity, courage, artistic ability, athletic ability, grit. Yep. Grit. The singular most important characteristic of success is grit. If you stick to it, work your tail off, believe, and work and work and work, you will succeed. Don’t judge success by arbitrary numbers (the number of a test score, the time in a race, the number you have in a bank account later on). Success is on-going, a process, and it has to do with grit. Just loving what you’re doing and working hard is to succeed.
6. I wish you perspective. You are not a category of person; neither are any of your peers. You are so so much more than a silly label or number. You are not a jock, Emo, hipster, geek, gamer … That’s just a silly box others put you in to make sure they can find a place you fit. You are beautiful. You are the reason someone smiles today, and if you aren’t, become that reason. You are the reason somebody believes that the day will not be as awful as before. You are a gift.
6. I wish you laughter. Have a sense of humor about yourself, your mistakes, and laugh first, laugh loud. And when you want to cry, cry. Cry hard. Then laugh again.
7. I wish you respect. Respect yourself. Respect your body. Respect your peers and teachers, the bus driver, the janitors, the administration, the librarian … YOURSELF. Respect yourself. Respect YOURSELF YOUR BODY YOURSELF YOUR BODY. You’ve got one life (and if believe in reincarnation, fine, so you’re reincarnated one day as a firefly. Who knows?), so treat your body with love and respect and demand that others do the same. And if someone doesn’t, tell someone you trust. It’s not your fault if someone hurts you. You deserve beauty and kindness and respect. It is your HUMAN RIGHT. Tell someone when that basic human right has been violated. So #speakloudly. Use your voice to demand respect.
8. I wish you forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. We all do things we’re horrified by. Nobody is perfect. But we can forgive. We can learn. We can be better and learn to make decisions based on kindness and integrity.
9. I wish you happiness. Life, even though everybody tries to sell you this, isn’t a never-ending rainbow of joy. You know this. And you were sold a story, a fairy tale of eternal happiness, happily-ever-afters and more. But in all the muck, there are moments of pure happiness. I wish you have those. I wish you those moments of grace that stitch together how broken you may feel, moments that give you light.
10. I wish you love. I hope you love yourself, who you are and who you can be. Look in the mirror and see past the labels and the piles of crap people lay on you — the crap you lay on yourself. Fight through it, exhale, and remember how amazing you really are.
The best thing about these wishes, truly, is all of them can come true. It all begins with you. So, find a place where you’re safe, where you can be you, and remember it gets better. It really does. I promise.