Wednesday, January 21, 2015

21st Century Relationships

Phew, it has been a long time since I've blogged. For a while this blog was my baby. I had a job that had me stationed in front of a computer for eight hours a day, and after a while I realized how perfect it was for my writing hobby. I loved it. I could just be at the desk all day, do my job and blog at the same time. Then, I left that job in April of last year and went back to slinging coffees for a living. Which I loooove, but it leaves me with much less time to write. On top of that, I've been struggling through the longest bout of writer's block I've ever experienced. I like to blog about what I'm passionate about or whatever comes to mind, but the problem with that is that half the time the only things IN my mind are the things I'm passionate about...and I figure most people don't want to constantly read my thoughts on the same topics. However, I've gotten over worrying about what other people think and have decided to write about whatever!

This morning I stumbled across some words that really caught my attention and got my wheels turning:

"Dating in the 21st century is by far one of the most ridiculous processes ever. People are so complicated. You must play games. You must lie. You have to act like you don't care even if you do. You must date multiple people to keep the attention of that one because it's generally just casual. You must be unavailable because if you are too available people get turned off. You have to ignore calls even if you want to pick up. Essentially, if you are a true lover, you have to resist everything that comes natural to you to play this fucking "game" you fucking idiots love to play. It changes everything for me to pretend like I don't care. I actually stop giving a fuck."
I wish I could find the person that wrote this and get on my knees and kiss the ground they walk on. Not because they're some brilliant genius, but because they get it. Because they can see the flaws in modern dating, haven't allowed themselves to turn completely blind and fall into it, and because they are passionate about it. What they said was 100% true and I wish everybody could see that.

What that person said got me thinking and reflecting on the relationships I observe around me. Every time I log onto any social media platform, it's guaranteed that I see somebody airing their dirty laundry online for the public to see. Every day I see my friends being hurt or hurting others because of all these games people play with each other while dating these days. People love to bitch about their relationships and wonder what's going wrong. What the person said in the above excerpt covers just a FEW of the reasons why your relationship might be falling short of what you want it to be. If you want your relationship to be healthy and to grow every day, as it should, then you need to stop acting like the average teenager. Stop playing mind games, stop being unfaithful, stop hiding things and keeping secrets, stop lying, stop being an asshole, stop with the bullshit. Stop trying to manipulate your partner. When the hell did that become the new "thing"? To manipulate and brainwash people into doing what you want? If you want something to change or for your partner to do something for you, then communicate that with them. Tell them what you want and figure out how you can accomplish that as a team. Because that's what you are when you're dating somebody. So many people act like it's them against their partner. It should be the two of you against the world.

Don't worry about being "too available", caring "too much" or playing hard to get so they "chase" you. It's beyond stupid. There's no way in hell I'd even want to be with a person who thought it was possible for me to care about them or our relationship "too much", or who would say that I was "too available". I know it's cliche, but follow your HEART. Don't make love and relationships into this crazy science so that your brain has to constantly solve equations on how much time or attention you should give somebody, or so you have to figure out your next move. Love isn't a game and neither are relationships. Want to text or even call your partner (imagine that)? Do it. Don't wait for them because you're mad or because you want them to reach out first. Want to spend time together? Start making plans. Don't worry about how much time you've already spent with them or how "available" it might make you look. Yes, distance is good sometimes, but don't over analyze everything like it's rocket science.

Beyond the mind games and manipulation of modern dating, there are still issues that have been around since the beginning of time when it comes to relationships. And as far as those go, my number one piece of advice is to TREAT YOUR PARTNER LIKE YOU DID IN THE BEGINNING...or better. Shocking concept I know. I'm not some love expert but I'm happy as hell with my relationship and that has to be worth something. In the beginning you aren't necessarily fully comfortable, so you don't pick fights over the stupid shit. You do everything you can to keep the person you're dating happy and to not upset them. You let them do the little annoying things and you don't get upset because either 1.) You think it's cute for some reason or 2.) You know it's not worth hurting their feelings over, so you let them keep doing it and don't shut them down or get all pissy about it. Sometimes you'll even pretend you like certain things just because they do. Instead of only wanting to do what you like all the time. Open doors for her. Offer to buy his dinner every once in a while. Buy her flowers randomly. Bring him lunch to work. Tell her she looks pretty even when she's not trying (and kind of looks like hell that day). Tell him how good he looks all the time, how smart he is, or how much you appreciate him. When we start dating somebody we are so infatuated with them, with just the thought of being with them! We're like, "Man I lucked out, this girl/guy is great and everything about them is wonderful and I'm so happy I have somebody to hug and kiss and watch Netflix with and touch their genitals!" Bahaha, but really. These people are still the people we fell in love with years later (most of the time). They still have all the same great qualities or cute quirks that we love. We just allow ourselves to get so jaded after a while and stop appreciating them because it's easier to get irritated, selfish and greedy than it is to step up and put them first, or at least put some effort into our relationships every once in a while.

And lastly, DON'T DO THINGS THAT HURT YOUR PARTNER. I don't care if it's something you "like". Yes, you have to pay attention to your wants sometime. You deserve to be happy and can't abandon everything you enjoy for another person. BUT, if it's something fairly small and you don't really care about it but they do, just give it up. Even if you do care about it to a certain degree, if it truly hurts them and hurts your relationship, make a damn sacrifice for them because I'm sure they've made them for you. I promise a happy relationship is worth it. Relationships are about balance, give and take, and SACRIFICES. If you don't believe you should have to make sacrifices now and then for your partner, then maybe you shouldn't have one. There's nothing inherently wrong with not wanting to make sacrifices for other people or with wanting to be selfish. However, if that's what you want then you need to be single so you can have those things without hurting somebody else. Relationships aren't 50/50. They're 100/100. Don't kill each other over mistakes. They happen but they can be worked through, together. My boyfriend and I have both made sacrifices for each other and we've both made mistakes, but we take them on as a team, communicate, and end up stronger each time we butt heads. Side note: Even though mistakes can be worked through, it's always just better to try to avoid making them if at all possible (; Because sometimes they do cause permanent damage, and that's never worth it. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Anyways, I'm so tired of watching all these people complain constantly about their partner/relationship and not actually expecting to have to work to make it better. It's not that hard people. And if your partner is playing these games with you, not making occasional sacrifices, or treating you like shit...then you should figure out what's going on and take the necessary actions. Love isn't easy, but it sure as hell isn't as complicated as people try to make it these days. And everybody deserves love, so don't forget that either. Unless you're some asshole that likes to commit crimes against humanity or something like that. Then you don't deserve shit.

My relationship isn't perfect, but shit, sometimes it feels like it is. I get tired of hearing people say, "You're so lucky" while referring to my relationship. I am extremely grateful for my boyfriend. He's a wonderful man and I'm fully aware of that. However, luck isn't what has made my relationship successful. It's only the reason he finds me attractive (;
But really, it hasn't been luck. It has been work. Years and years worth of work from both of us. Work that has had the biggest pay-off I've ever experienced.

Oh and here's a pretty funny article out there about modern dating, there are plenty. But remember, you don't have to deal with these things. Take your love life into your own hands <3 
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Do Good for the Sake of Doing Good

I can't help but notice that very few people do good deeds just for the sake of doing good anymore. It seems like nobody can pay for a stranger's coffee, hand a homeless man some change, put a quarter in a parking meter that's about to expire, donate money to a charity, or any kind act without immediately posting it all over social media to get that extra bit of validation, that virtual pat on the back or, "Aw you're such a good person!" comment.

No, it's not bad to share kind things that you do with others, but it seems like some people do these things solely so they can tell others. It seems like telling their friends about the nice thing they did that day is more gratifying to them than doing the deed itself, and that's saddening. I've donated to charities before and a few times I've posted things like, "Hey I just helped out by donating to _____. Check out their website, and if you're able, maybe you can help out too!" If I inform others that I've donated to a charity or done something kind it's always in a way that I'm urging them to do so as well, never just boasting about how "good of a person I am" or seeking validation from my peers online.

As some of you know, I volunteer for the local Humane Society and I talk about that a lot (here I am talking about it again). However, it's something I consider a big part of my life and a passion of mine, so of course I'm going to talk about it. I love posting pictures of the animals and sharing stories about the cute or silly things they did that day. This kind of thing needs attention though because these animals do, shining light on them is the only way they're going to get adopted. I don't do these things so others will tell me I'm a good person, I do it for the animals. And I guess that's what I'm getting at, make sure you're doing good things for the right reasons. If you find yourself posting online each time you do a good deed, just slow down and ask yourself why you're sharing that with everyone? Are you sharing it because it made you feel good and you want to encourage others to engage in random acts of kindness or charity as well? Or are you posting it because you crave the attention and positive feedback or affirmation?

A friend actually opened my eyes to this a few months ago. I don't remember the conversation we were having at the time, but I think it was almost random how he started venting about people who can't do a good deed without making sure everybody knows about it. I went to bed that night and laid there thinking about times I might have shared things I did to make myself feel or look like a better person in the eyes of others. Ever since then I have focused a lot more on doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do, or to help out others...not to share it so others can build up my ego.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Broken, Just Bent

"The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes."

It's funny how we can go through years of our lives without realizing how good we had it. For (a random) example, my beautiful mum just celebrated her 45th birthday last week and we were laughing about how she cried all day on her 30th. How she thought she was so old and how "terrible" it was, and now she'd give damn near anything to be 30 again. It's also crazy that we can be unhappy for so long
 without realizing how truly bad it was. The day I graduated high school I moved into my new apartment, because I was in such a hurry to get out of my parents' "control". How I barely could scrape enough money together for rent each month and lost track of how often my landlord asked my roommate and I for money. How I was living off of yogurt and "manwiches" made from the meat my roommate could steal from her employer. How all I drank for six months was J├Ąger, vodka, and tequila chased by Kool-Aid. Getting asked politely by our neighbors
below if we'd stop throwing our 
cigarette butts over the balcony because they'd land outside their
 back door and their toddler son would eat them. I remember crying, laying in bed at night
because I'd have to be at work early the next morning and my apartment would be full of my
roommate's friends who were all partying. And one of them would be parked in my parking spot
and I would just lay there worrying about my car being towed, and how I had no money to deal
with something like that. "Best" of all, I remember laying in the empty bathtub, covered in my own
vomit, without pants on and an IV stuck in my arm. Getting fluids pumped into me because I
was so drunk and not  able to recognize the voices or faces around me. I remember
waking up a few hours later and having to go to work. I had just ended an almost two-year
relationship and kicked my ex out of the apartment. My roommate dumped her fiance and
therefore, our rent doubled for each of us. But we were still blowing our money on alcohol,
drugs, and pedicures. By the time I got out of there, it was a court visit for her and I with over
$800 on the line. Our security deposit was $1,000 and we had caused $800 of damage beyond
that. That was bullshit by the way. A lot of the damages were already there before we moved in.
However, we did have to answer to some of it, including a destroyed closet door and blood
splatter on the wall. When I write it all out it seems so much more violent than I remember. But
the truth is, it really was that violent. The night was a blur because my mind was racing, but I do
remember some of it. I remember that I wasn't scared at all. No matter how much ____ yelled or 

hit that door, I wasn't scared. I just hoped that ____ would hit me so I had an excuse to attack
without holding back. But he never did, he loved me too much. But I couldn't give that love in
return. It was all very sad actually. It was my own hell and I thought nothing of it. I could't even
see or admit how troubled I was. 
Hindsight is always 20/20 I guess.

A lot happened that summer and for the months following. I think those months were when my life really started to become what it is today. Summer was a shit show. The drinking, partying and depression were out of control. Around the time I broke up with my ex, my parents announced their divorce. I felt like I was losing control of my life and everything was spiraling out of control. The two things that had always been solid in my life that always seemed to be changing were now gone. My relationship was finally over and I felt like my family was being ripped apart. Those were hard times for sure. Then things started to change. Later that summer I started dating who I truly believe is the love of my life and am happy to say that we're still together almost four years later. I believe it was December of that year that I moved out of the apartment and my mum had come over to help me shampoo the carpets so hopefully we wouldn't be charged extra for cleaning. It was while we were shampooing that she told me she had found somebody that she wanted to start dating. I cried. I was happy for her and sad for myself. My mum married him three months ago.

My family is something I have always taken for granted, even when I'm convinced that I don't. I think to some degree we will always take our families for granted. There is just no way to appreciate them and love them as much as they deserve. Divorce is something I foolishly thought would never touch us. I remember being a naive little kid and saying to myself or my siblings, "I wish they would just get a divorce" whenever my parents would fight. At that time I just wanted to see them happy, and for some reason I thought that divorce would make them happy. How stupid was I? I never thought they actually would either. My brother has always been a step ahead though. Even though he's only a year older than me, he was always a lot wiser when it came to life regarding family. I don't ever remember him "wishing" they would get divorced, but I do remember him telling me not to say that. To this day, my brother is so family-oriented and I admire that so much about him. My brother is fantastic, he's wonderful and I love him. I've learned a lot about how you should treat and value family through him.

Some people become bitter after their parents split up, they give up on love and the idea of being happily married until death. I'll admit, I became even more cautious of love than I already was. I became more afraid to trust and fall in love, but I didn't become bitter. My number one dream is still to one day be lucky enough to become the wife of a good man and to have my chance to build my own family. I will learn from my parents' mistakes and I will also take from the things they did "right" as well. Because they did a lot right. They are both incredible people and did so much for our family. 

Every once in a while when I'm a little more stressed out than usual, or a little more exhausted, I'll still get sad when I think about the way things "ended", though there really is no end. My parents are connected until the day they die through my siblings and myself, and through a love that didn't end when their marriage did. Marriage may not always be forever, but family is. I've been stressed for months about certain aspects of my future that are going to change without my control, stressed from work, etc. Last night was one of those "sad nights" where my stress got the best of me. Out of nowhere on my way home from work, I started thinking about how badly I missed my parents being together and my siblings and I all living together under one roof. I miss my childhood, and at times I wish that I could re-live it, so I could have tried harder to change things for my family. I had a wonderful childhood, but I think my depression and "quirks"
 robbed me from parts of it. This all might sound juvenile, but I think I'm just at that weird stage in life that some of go through. Like a midway to mid-life crisis, ha! I'm 21-years old. I'm an adult at that time in life where half of my friends are married (some even with kids) and half are still living with their parents. Half are graduating with their Bachelor's degrees and half are still in their hiatus from school. It's that weird in-between age. In between high school and being a "real adult". In between being expected to be living at home by some, and considered a failure or "lazy" if you're not supporting yourself 100% by others. I'm one of many who fled the nest as quickly as possible, and then ran back. I'm in between society's expectations of people my age. Still fighting "growing up" but realizing that it's already happened.

Last night I thought about how badly I missed my parents' bickering and how they'd constantly give each other shit, my dad trying to gross out my siblings and I by saying, "Your mom and I are gonna go upstairs and...make out". I miss dad buying mum Fuschias every year even though she really didn't like them that much, and wasn't a fan of the mess they made. I thought about all the times dad would get home from work and yell, "Mr. Wonderful is home!" and mum would roll her eyes. I miss hearing them tell each other they love each other, or mum squirming and whining, "Put me down" whenever he'd pick her up. I miss how short she looked next to him and holidays with both of them there. Watching them open their stockings that they made for each other after the three of us were done opening ours on Christmas morning. I miss them coaching kids' sports together and all the traditions they held so important in our family. I miss it all. And I regret every single time I'd whisper to myself, "I wish they would just get divorced" when they would fight. I regret it because I had no idea what love really was or how hard it is to make a marriage last. I was oblivious to all of their emotions and all the pain. I miss the 17 years of my life that I would have dinner with both of them in the same house, surrounded by both of their love. 

Now he's been with her for years, and she married him. And yet, I still can't stop thinking about myself and my feelings. Selfish.

But when I step back, I can still appreciate the dynamics of our family. We aren't broken, just bent. I don't come from a "broken family" because blood can't be  broken and true love doesn't disappear, even though sometimes we wish it would. Memories can fade but they can't be erased, and I will always cherish them. My parents may not be married anymore, but they are both alive and well and I'm so thankful for that. Because I know that one day I'll look back on this chapter in my life, and realize how good it was and wish that I could have it back.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014


Sometimes what I write is so well thought out and thorough. Sometimes I gather up all my thoughts and try to write them down in a way that makes sense or is easy to follow. And other times my mind is so cluttered that I just spew seemingly meaningless shit out on here. I'm sorry for that, hah. But you get what you pay for, and in this case it's minutes of your free time reading my garbage. 
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making My Dreams Come True, One By One

"If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle."

You know how sometimes when you've wanted something for so long that you built it up so much in your head and ended up disappointed by the experience when it finally happens? Well, that definitely wasn't the case this time. This last Sunday, on April 13th, one of my biggest dreams came true. I got to truly fly. Not inside of a plane, but just me and another human flying through the air towards the earth.

I've wanted to go sky diving ever since I was probably around twelve years old and officially added it to my "Bucket List" when I was sitting in a study skills class one day when I was fifteen. Finally, at age 21, my friend and I paid our deposits and scheduled a date so we would finally make the time to do it. For years I had been imagining what it would be like and I wasn't let down one bit. In fact, it was far more amazing and intense than I ever thought it would be. The experience I had was hands down the most incredible thing I've ever felt, other than falling in love. Sorry, that's so cheesy but it's true!

Taking off

Danielle and I showed up to the sky diving site, signed our waivers, watched an educational video and then waited for our turn. It felt like ages that we waited but once we put our flight suits on the whole experience flew by. We all crammed into the plane and it only took a few minutes before we were cruising at 13,000 feet. Danielle and I had both paid an additional fee so we could double our free-fall time, because why not? My instructor was a really cool guy who has sky dived over 6,000 times. When he found out that I was going to be the person diving with him he asked if I was scared and I told him not really and that I'd been waiting for this day forever. He responded with, "Okay guys, can I get a different person!?" The entire time in the plane he was cracking jokes and just made me even more comfortable than I already was. However, when it was our turn and we started scooting towards the open door, my nerves started going crazy.  I wasn't really scared at all, just experiencing the biggest rush of emotions I have ever felt. It all happened so fast. There's no sitting on the edge of the plane, "Okay are you ready? 1...2..." It's not like that. He said, "K put your heels on the bottom of the plane, cross your arms, neck back, head up" and we jumped. He knew how excited I was so he threw in an immediate back flip which is apparently frowned upon when sky diving tandem with a newbie...but I'm not complaining! It was incredible.

Danielle's instructor got this picture of my instructor and I jumping out of the plane
 We fell at 180 mph for about ten seconds before he released a small shoot that slowed us to 120 mph (the speed of solo diver). We free fell for a full minute before the main chute opened and it was the most incredible sixty seconds of my life. The amount of pressure in my head was unimaginable and it felt like my ears, nose, and brain had exploded all at once. I thought for sure my nose and ears were bleeding and that my brain had been injured somehow. I'm not going to lie, it was painful but so worth it...and the instructor told me that it's usually only painful the first time you jump. During the free fall, the air was hitting me so fast that my mouth dried out completely and it was so loud that I could hardly hear myself yelling, "Holy shit! Holy SHIT! This is insane!" Once the chute opened, everything went completely silent and we were floating. It was the most peaceful feeling I've ever experienced. The bizarre part was that just seconds before the overwhelming peaceful feeling, I was experiencing the most intense and incredible thing I had ever felt. Both parts of the dive were so different but so amazing, and experiencing that drastic transition was too cool. My instructor let me steer us with the chute for a while and we just talked as he pointed out different landmarks. I was a little nervous for the landing but it was flawless and couldn't have been more comfortable for me. Overall, the experience was amazing and indescribable. I could try for hours to explain what I felt but nothing I say will do it justice. You truly have to experience it on your own.

It's a little embarrassing to say but I have to admit that I cried later that night when I was at home thinking about it. It's embarrassing because most people probably don't get that emotional over things like that, but it was a big deal to me because I think crying out of pure joy is one of the greatest feelings. And that's all it was. I was sitting at my computer looking at the photos and re-living the experience and just started to cry. I had never experienced so many emotions at one time before jumping out of that plane and it was finally sinking in that one of my biggest dreams had come true. I highly recommend sky diving to every single person and plan to jump many more times! I can't remember where I saw it or who said it, but I once read "If I could stand in an open airplane doorway, two and a half miles above ground, and will myself to step into empty space, then I could do anything". And that's exactly how it makes you feel, like you are capable of anything and the world is yours to experience.

The most beautiful view of the world

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Where is your attention going?

Sometimes I have to stop and take a look at where my focus has been. I think many of us need to remind ourselves often to pay more attention to what we've got. Love and appreciate what you have in your life and who you're sharing it with and it'll leave no room to think about what you don't have. The second you start to think about things you "don't have" or trivial things in life, try to re-direct your focus to the people and things around you that bring you true happiness.

This goes for everything. Pay more attention to what you're currently doing to reach your goals and less on where other people are "at" in life, how much they're making, or the house they live in. Pay more attention to what's going on in the lives and minds of your friends and less on the latest celebrity gossip. Pay more attention to your girlfriend or boyfriend (husband or wife) and all the great things they bring to your life, and less on their "shortcomings" and flaws, or the "hot girls" or "hot guys" at the gym. Pay more attention to today and less on tomorrow. Be appreciative.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words almost killed me."

This is a quote from a woman's blog who wrote about her battle with an eating disorder after being criticized and teased relentlessly because of her fuller figure. I remember growing up and hearing my parents say, "Remember, sticks and stones will break your bonesBut words will never hurt you." I also remember sitting in class and having my teacher make us all repeat the saying after her, over and over again. Back then I thought it was a good idea and it made sense to me. However, after years of being bullied and watching other kids get bullied, I realized that technique is borderline useless. Why are we passing on this ridiculously misleading saying to kids? Instead of trying to convince kids that words aren't hurtful and that they "don't mean anything", why aren't we teaching them how harmful words can really be? Why are we not teaching our kids that their words are filled with power that can be used to better the world or power that can hurt others, depending on how they use them.  And why aren't we teaching them that words, in fact, hurt far more and cut much deeper than "sticks and stones"? By passing these sayings down to our youth, we're not only teaching them that they don't have to be careful with their words but we're also sending the message that words shouldn't hurt you. Because of this, when kid's are called names or teased and end up with hurt feelings, sometimes they're left feeling even more inadequate because they have been taught that this shouldn't hurt them. So when the words do hurt, they feel like they're weak or pathetic.

I remember almost every hurtful thing that was said to me growing up. Was I hurt because I was weak? No. You can't tell yourself that something doesn't hurt, and make it true. You can't protect yourself from pain caused by words of others any more than you can protect yourself from the pain experienced when you break a limb. As a kid I could have told myself a million times over, "It doesn't hurt that she said _____ or he said ______. It doesn't hurt that they called me _____"...but it still would have hurt. As an adult, we have a little more power to block out negativity by being rational, but we still can't prevent it completely. There will always be times when a person's words cut like knives. 

I've been reading a lot about the stabbing in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, and with each article my heart hurts more. I've found that when these things happen, we tend to "forget" about them once the physical pain of the victims has subsided and the news moves on to the next thing. Almost always, there is a motive behind actions like these. These kids don't just wake up one morning and decide they want to stab their peers and face the consequences for the rest of their lives. These actions come from deep-rooted problems. Some of the stabber's classmates said that he was bullied (although it hasn't been confirmed), and that's not hard to believe. Ongoing bullying was probably what drove this young man to do what he did. While shooting can detach a person from a situation and their victims, stabbing is much more personal. Studies show that those who choose stabbing over other forms of assault are usually filled with intense rage and adrenaline. This young man was ready to be up close and personal with his victims, he was prepared to use the necessary physical effort to use his weapons and he was ready for blood. And this is terrifying for me. Bullying has been linked with suicides and homicides countless times in the past. 

Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters in the Columbine shooting back in 1999, had written in his diary about how he felt like an outcast and like everybody was conspiring against him, he also suffered from depression. In 2011, a man named Don who was a victim of bullying when he was a boy opened up about his experience. One day in the summer of 1946 when Don was 11-years-old, he and his friend lured their bully to a pond and beat him to death with a club. These stories are among hundreds that link bullying to suicide and homicide and they span over decades. As a man in his mid-70s, Don wanted to speak out about what happened because he wants to save the lives of others...even bullies. It is a fact that nearly all of school shooters/mass killers were victims of bullying.

My number one dream is to have children one day, but I'm terrified. I'm terrified because there is so much evil in the world that we can't protect our children from. Aside from the potential daily dangers like driving, there are things like this. We could kiss our children goodbye and send them off to the mall to hang out with friends or send them off to school and they could have their lives taken from them. Or on the other side of things, we could become so detached from our children and their emotions without even knowing it, and they could become these closed-off, withdrawn kids who commit these horrible crimes. I remember getting bullied all throughout middle school and I would get home from school, go straight up to my room and sit there all night. I didn't interact with my family hardly at all. My parents are wonderful and couldn't have been more loving. My mum would always try to start conversations with me or ask why I was so detached, but she couldn't force me to tell the truth. After a while she just figured I was a "regular pre-teen". Because of my experience with bullying, I wont' be caught dead allowing my kids to bully others one day. We teach our kids stupid sayings like, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", when we should be teaching them that words can ruin lives and break hearts. That words can kill. They can cause other children to hurt or kill themselves or others. It's a dark world and so many parents and schools are trying to hide that fact from kids, when instead they should be educating them and informing them of the gravity of their words and actions when it comes to how they interact with and treat their peers.

Parents and schools need to try even harder to be more aware of what's going on in their homes and in the hallways at school. Principles and teachers aren't stupid, they aren't oblivious or naive. They see what's going on, they see who likes who, what kids have tons of friends and what kids are alone every day. Just like students do, they hear rumors and secrets being whispered in the halls, they know what kids are getting picked on. But so often they choose to ignore it or brush it off with, "They're just being kids". I can't hear about kids killing themselves or others without crying. But so many people can, so many people can watch these things on the news without batting an eye or just change the channel and say, "This shit is so depressing." I understand not wanting to fill your mind with things like this, but we have to be aware. We can't have this "Out of sight, out of mind" attitude or things like this will keep happening. People often wait until it happens at their kids school or in their town before they truly become concerned.

If your child is being bullied what should you do? If you can't remove them from the situation by switching schools or other options, instead of telling them that they're "just words" and to not let what others say affect them so much, we also need to teach our youth that bullying is not about them as a victim. There is nothing wrong with you, there is no REAL reason this person is targeting you. Bullying is about the bullies. Bullies project their insecurities on other people. There isn't a bully out there who is 100% happy with who they are and genuinely proud of themselves as a person.  If there was, they wouldn't feel the need to bring others down or criticize and tease their peers. Parents can't be held responsible for all that happens with their kids because some things are out of their hands, but you can be aware of the situation and assure your kids that it isn't about them. You can tell them that one day none of this will matter.

I think one of the greatest songs for a kid who's being bullied to listen to is "Invisible" by Hunter Hayes. I remember the first time I heard this song. I was sitting in my car on my lunch break and I started bawling because it is so real and there's so much truth to it. In it he sings, "Trust the one who's been where you are, wishing it was sticks and stones. Those words cut deep but they don't mean you're all alone, and you're not invisible. Hear me out, there's so much more to life than what you're feeling now. Someday you'll look back on all these days, and all this pain is going to be invisible." I said that I remember every cruel thing my peers said to me over the years, but I can honestly say that the pain itself is gone. I can repeat all the harsh words and names over and over again in my head and not feel a thing other than empathy. It doesn't hurt me anymore, but I feel for those who are going through the same pain right now. All those kids that feel like they have no other way out than to end their lives or end the lives of those who're bullying them. If we could help show these kids that there is light in the future and that their pain won't go on forever, maybe they wouldn't feel like they had to do these horrible things. To go from being the victim to making victims out of others.

I could go on forever about bullying, but I'm just going to continue to repeat myself. I just had to write a little about it because of the horrible stabbing, my mind still has a hard time wrapping around such a horrible thing. My heart is breaking for all of those involved and all of those affected by bullying, past, present and future.

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