I’m thick in the middle of competition season – which means I have officially sold my social life over to work/cheer. I am currently on day 70 of working straight. 35 more to go!!! Portland, Salem, Dallas, Orlando….. we’re in the homestretch!
Social Media. Oh boy. Such a treacherous display of pure human stupidity. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love the shit out of it really. But what I can’t stand are the people who use their SoMe platforms to assert their authority and idiotic opinions over the unassuming bystanders who just want to upload pictures of their babies and post high school bodies…. but I digress….
Our country was founded on the right to disagree with one another. My opinions don’t have to be yours, and yours not mine. So why are you on my Facebook telling me I’m wrong? GET OFF MY FACEBOOK. When I decompress at night by logging into facebook to see the latest news from my friends, what they ate today, how their baby smiled while sitting on a pony, and the drama in their life that they just don’t want to talk about ok… I don’t need your snarky remarks on my page about how you would’ve done things differently. You know why you would’ve done things differently? Because you are not ME. Let us move to a place in our lives where we can celebrate the differences between one another. Be grateful that we don’t all like the same things or complete life scenarios in the exact manner. You love mustard on your hotdog? That’s great because I don’t. But I don’t feel the need to tell you about it EVERY time you bring it up. Mustard, wow, that’s great. Good for you. I hope you mustard it up on that hotdog. You deserve it. Now get off my Facebook.
I have had the pleasure to work with teenage girls for the past 10 years. I’ve seen their mood swings, the way they think the world is going to end because I won’t let them send a text during practice, or how they feel like life is horribly awful because their boyfriend broke up with them after 3 weeks of sitting next to each other at school lunches. And I have to say, I am so thankful to be at a point in my life where these things seem so ridiculous and not worth the tears. However, I am 28 – and they are between 10-18 years old. So when one of my athletes seems to be down, their eyes blood shot from crying – I try to give them a break. I try to understand their pain. Put myself in their shoes and think back to how middle/high school affected me. But the one subject that I’ve never understood or had the ability to keep my calm on is bullying. I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve watched the cool girls gang up on the weak link of the team – and I have no tolerance for it. The really hard thing as an adult, coach, person in power with kids – is that kids tend to be on their best behavior in front of you. They are all sweet and unassuming while they know they are in your sight. And calling someone a bully carries such weight these days, it’s a sticky label to pin on a kid.
So maybe it’s because I grew up with a sister who has special needs – that I am more accepting and open to the idea of live and let live. Or perhaps the fact that I had a mother who didn’t tolerate hate and separation of her children into two separate categories. Or the fact that in middle school the boys used to call me “Shamu” because I was a short gymnast who wasn’t a skinny string bean like the rest of the girls and eventually I transferred schools because the teasing drove me to tears every night. Whatever it is, it blows my mind at the cruelty that children think is acceptable to direct towards another individual.
Amanda Todd, a child from Vancouver BC committed suicide Wednesday, at the age of 15, after years of bullying and depression. She felt as though she had no friends, and no one that had her back. An insecure teenage girl who wanted people to like her so much that she made some unfortunate mistakes when it came to boys. These choices were held against her and brought to the attention of her classmates at every school she transferred to. Not finding any solace from the unending humiliation and taunting, she attempted suicide once before she successfully ended her life on Wednesday October 10th 2012.
An investigation into the bullying of Amanda Todd has been launched with the primary focus on finding the bullies who drove her to kill herself. But how did we get here? I’ve always believed that mean kids are the result of bad parenting. That hate isn’t born, it’s bred. I have no tolerance for bullying because I grew up being different. I grew up knowing that my family was different. And that it was beautiful. I wasn’t like everyone else – I was different, and that was kinda cool. I am thankful for the way I was raised – instilled with so much beauty, love and compassion that when my uncle killed himself two years ago at my grandmas house, and I was the one who was asked to go over and hold her while she cried, watch the coroner take his body away, and look at the police in the eyes while I told them who he was – I couldn’t speak for 3 whole days. Emotionally I died. How does someone that you love so much, hurt so bad that they feel like they have nothing left to live for? What if my uncle knew how much I loved him… would he still be here? I’ll never know. The “what if’s” and the “I should’ves” really mean nothing once death has taken it’s toll.
Amanda Todd made a video about her experience with bullying before she passed away. I encourage you to watch it. I encourage you to feel the sadness in her words and to take a moment to reflect on the tolerance and acceptance that we are teaching our children. Being different than you, or different than your believes does not make you a bad person. We’ve got to raise our children with a lot more love and acceptance. Driving a teenager to hang herself at her home is not the answer. A mistake does not deserve to be bullied to death. Have a heart, and please pass one onto your kids.
So can we take a moment please, for Amanda Todd. For all the kids who are different, not like us. For all the kids, one compliment or insult away from death. A moment to reflect on the use of our words and how they affect others. A moment to save the next generation, humanity, and our future.
Quality over Quantity. We’ve heard it for years. And obviously I’d want two delicious ripe apples over eight rotten apples with worms in them. But I’m convinced now, that this is a lesson you learn with age.
I have the honor to work with teenage girls….. No seriously, it’s pretty bad ass 94.7% of the time. But the window that I get into their world is eye opening. Especially considering that without social networking, they are lost. I’m basically the social media police for the gym I coach at. I follow their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Make sure they are being upstanding citizens and representing the gym and their families accordingly. But the other night I noticed that one of them had over 600 followers on Instagram. What the heck? Another few had some thousand follwers on Twitter. Interesting…
I remember when I reached a thousand friends on Myspace (yeah shut up…) and I thought I was so popular. But I had no clue who half of them were. Even now as I look at my facebook, I interact with people daily that I don’t ever see in real life or haven’t seen in years. Sure, it’s a great gateway to stay in touch with “friends”, but where’s the quality in that?
I took some time to evaluate the relationships in my life tonight. I have a pretty solid core group of friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have a best friend that I’ve known for 24 years. Her kids call me “Auntie Cher”. I wouldn’t trade it. Sometimes I’ll admit as I watch my friends get married and have kids I feel a little lonely. It’s hard for them to make the time for you. I completely understand, but that’s life. the truth is, I don’t want to add to the quantity, I’m happy with the quality. And it’s not just the quality of the friendships, it’s the quality of my life as a whole. I have a really freaking good life. I have a great family and friends whom I adore. I couldn’t ask for more.
The bottom line, and what I wish I’d learned earlier – is not to stuff your life full of quantity (friends, clothes, shoes, cars, etc.) But find the quality that makes life SO worth living for. And while I need to remind myself of it sometimes, I have a pretty bad ass life.
Now normally, ‘Call Me Maybe’ plays over and over in my head during the day. But I have to admit, (Yeah even after I just admitted to listening to Carly Rae Jepsen) that I cannot get the freaking Target Back to School commercials out of my head. They are so catchy and well…silly/fun.
Working in an agency, my mind has been warped into this crazy way of viewing advertisements. Yeah, the commercial is awesome. But a team of people had to sit down, brainstorm, and say, “Alright – what if we did a series of videos involving Teachers… but get this, they rock out and parody old 80′s songs!” And then another Creative Lead got totally stoked and said, “Oh my gosh that’s brilliant, and we can incorporate a crazy science teacher plus the Static Electricity ball from OMSI and a red head kid who’s teeth light up.” They actually confidently and seriously pitched this to the client… and then get this – the client got so juiced up that they paid thousands and thousands if not millions of dollars to produce this crazy concept.
Now out in the “real world” (which btw I HATE when people say that, ohh the ‘real world’ because you are living on a freaking cloud apparently?) when people let their mind wander and allow it to come up with the types of ideas mentioned above, they are scoffed at. Serious cubicle guy says to you, “Ugh, get serious and grow up. Why don’t you go crunch some numbers and work on the ROI on the spreadsheet that shows all our reports for the process of the high level marketing thing we do here…” We tell kids, there’s no such thing as a stupid question and that all ideas are good ideas. But as adults, we sure know how to knock someone down a few pegs for being creative and thinking outside the box. “Immature”, “Grow up”, “Get Serious”. That’s how we label and treat those kooky creative types. Maybe instead of always thinking about how something won’t work, or that an idea isn’t realistic, we can shift our thinking to how the ideas play off each other to create something memorable, different, and unique. You want to what?…. create a device that people can use to talk to one another on, even though they are living in different towns and in their cars driving, via a satellite in space that transmits a signal? Yeah, that’s impossible grow up.
There’s a reason why I can’t get a jingle about school supplies out of my head. And there’s a reason why Target invested their money into VFX studio a52 and Wieden+Kennedy to produce such a quirky and stellar video series. They’re different, engaging, visually stimulated and fun.
When I was seven months old I taught myself how to walk. As my mom tells it, her and my dad were asleep on the couch while their baby girl was napping. But suddenly, they were woken up by a wandering baby. She thought, ‘how’d you get out here?’ and put me back in my crib and went back to sleep. I showed up in the living room again. I guess I just got bored, and tired of waiting.
And thus began my life as a fiercely stubborn and independent girl who didn’t wait for things to happen.
So what now? I live in Portland, Oregon. I work at a crazy advertising agency and coach hormonal teenage girls in competitive cheerleading. I’m a small girl with a big mouth. I speak fluent sarcasm with an educated flair, and I’m in on the joke. I don’t know why, but stories always find me. I’ve always got something to say without the fear of saying it. I have fun. I’m sure of myself. And for whatever reason I’ve managed to fill my life with a cast of characters that never disappoint.
I know patience is a virtue, but I don’t have much. Call it pushy. Call it eager. Call it ambitious. Call it whatever you will……
Life is too short to sit in your crib waiting for things to happen.