It is funny how a song can act as a catalyst to a time machine.
It is a frequent occurrence for me. One could cause me to truly laugh out loud in remembrance, sigh deeply with reverence, or shed tears of sorrow.
While driving one morning, I heard a song that transported me back many, many years. It made me think of a girl I knew, a good friend at one time. We used to roller skate to this particular song I heard. It made me feel sad again remembering that she took her own life before she was 30 years old.
I started thinking about the tremendous pain she must have felt to get to that point in her young life to cause her to end it when perhaps all she may have needed was a place where she felt accepted. I realize that there may have been more to ending her own life than the feeling of being acknowledged or recognized. And because I lost touch with her, I will never know.
When we feel alone and disconnected from others and may feel like we are on the outside looking in, it is certainly not a good feeling. Many of us struggle with this in our own lives and are lucky if we can pull through it, bringing us to the other side of that pain.
For me, I consider myself one of the lucky ones to be standing on the far side of pain, thanks to my mom’s help. During a period of my life when I felt like all my friends and family turned their backs on me, sending me deeper into despair and making me feel so demoralized, not knowing where to turn, my mom helped me to recognize I needed help.
This feeling of not being accepted is especially hard for adolescents. They often feel judged for who they are when all they are trying to find is how they fit in in the world. This is the main reason why I teach my middle schoolers, at the beginning of each year and repeatedly throughout, that we are more alike than we are different. We all want the same things in life no matter who we are, where we come from, what our backgrounds are, our culture, or our faith.
We all want to feel loved, to feel appreciated, and to feel accepted.
We all want to feel like we are worth enough, that we are enough. We are enough to be a part of some group, some club, some class, where we feel okay with showing our vulnerabilities, and despite that, are still accepted for who we are—for being our true selves.
After all, showing our vulnerabilities only means we are human, which brings us closer together with other humans.
It is unfortunate that many people do not feel comfortable or are even terrified to show who they are, to expose their vulnerabilities. Perhaps it is thought that if we do fully uncover our true selves, the whole world may come down upon us and shame us into oblivion.
On social media, especially, we too often see the “highlights” of someone else’s life, causing some to think that the insecurities or challenges present in all lives do not exist for them. It is an illusion we must realize because it does not matter what is posted online; we are all human.
We all have highs and lows in our lives that connect us in a way that is more than a little comforting. To show our vulnerabilities only means that we are brave while staring down on criticism or ridicule, and emerging as well-rounded people.