Friday, February 24, 2012

Letter to Seventh Grade Sean

I watched this yesterday, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't stop myself from tearing up. Okay, tearing up is kind of an understatement. I wept.

I have...a hard time reading or hearing stories about kids being bullied. And to just cut to the chase it's because I was bullied too.

Hearing the kid in the trailer talk about being called a "geek" and getting beat up, having his things stolen, and basically being treated like a walking piece of human garbage brings up alot of bad memories for me.

I was a small, athletically ungifted child who cried alot. Oh, and I was smart. For some reason that was also considered a bad thing when I was a kid. I get the impression from watching this that it still is.

I'm going to have to watch this movie. I hope that other people do and folks get some education about bullied kids- what they go through, and how to help them out. In the meantime, here is my own little message for bullied kids. I'm stealing this a little bit from "It Gets Better"and various "Dear Me" blogs, but here goes.

Dear Seventh Grade Sean,

Hey, how is it going? It's me, you from 2012, just writing to let you know a few things, and to give you some sagely 30 year-old-you-type advice. First and foremost, stop being ashamed of who you are and liking the things that you like. It may not seem it now, but the things that make you different will be the things that, someday, make you strong. You like comic books- that is awesome. You like Star Trek- that is awesome. You draw constantly, and read voraciously, and spend half your time dreaming up fictional worlds and characters and all of that is AMAZING. As you get older, your creative pursuits are going to be what drives you. People in your class use the words "Geek" and "nerd" like slurs when they talk about you. You will wear those two badges with so much pride some day.

You will get into theater, and through that improv. Improv will be the single most rewarding activity you participate in in your life. Some day, people will pay money to watch you and your friends play pretend onstage. I know that sounds unlikely, but it's true. Some day, people all around the world will download improvised Star Trek podcasts (those are like internet radio shows) that you and your friends record.

Speaking of friends, I know you feel like you don't have any now except for your brother, but you will have SO MANY GREAT friends some day. Theater and improv are going to be huge gateways for you to meet people, and to meet people who are weird and smart and creative like you. When you're 20, you're going to have a really incredible improv show, and a girl is going to approach you at the after show party, and want to make out with you. Totally make out with her! 9 years after that you will marry her. Actually, it's going to be weird because a few girls will approach you at that party. Only make out with the one named Chelsea. She is just as geeky, and smart, and weird as you. Oh and she is really, really hot. You will marry her on an island surrounded by friends. The meal will be fried chicken, and the party will be Steampunk themed (incidentally, you're going to discover and get into Steampunk in about 2 years).

You know how you read the World Book Encyclopedia cover to cover? Like it's a novel? Yeah guess what? Some day, you're going to work for World Book Encyclopedia. You will be a Digital Marketing Specialist. That's a totally awesome job that will exist in the future.

Look, I'm not going to lie, the next few years will be tough. You will never be tall. I know, I know, everyone keeps telling you stories about people they knew who sprouted up a foot when they hit puberty. That will not happen to you. You will go from being an abnormally short child to a slightly shorter than average adult. You will never really be any good at sports (though you will do something called Crossfit someday and you will be decent at that).

You will also have a hard time with girls. Through most of high school, dating is going to suck for you. Don't dwell on it. Try to have fun with dates. Don't be so hung up on falling in love. Like I said though, if you hold out, you are going to marry someone awesome.

People will continue to make fun of you. You're pretty much past the "Getting beat up daily" portion of your life. That ended in the sixth grade. But you are different. And some people hate that. You will continue to get picked on for being smart, and strange, and small. You will continue to be depressed, and angry, and lonely until you get to college. I swear to you though- if you develop a thick skin, and tough it out, everything will get better when you turn 18.

Just to recap- when you are 30, you will be married to a beautiful, funny, intelligent woman. You will have a cool job. People will pay to see you perform. You will have a bunch of awesome friends.

So, don't ever let anyone make you feel small. Don't let anyone make you feel like you are worth less than anyone else. Yes you are different, but your different is what will make you great some day. Stay weird. Stay smart. Work hard.


30 year old Sean