I know, we hated it when our parents did it to us. So why am I doing that to you? I guess because that is one of the things that we do... we learn and we pass the knowing on to others. And the best part is that age doesn't matter. So here we go... into the Wayback Machine, Sherman!
When I was in High School we got a new superintendent that made a huge difference in the way the student body behaved toward one another. And there were new resources available to the students for support. One of those resources was the peer support group that was started by our guidance counselor. I do not know how many people were in it all together because we ended up dividing into cell groups very quickly. I guess everybody had problems and a lot of people felt like talking about them.
The biggest benefit to the group, aside from finding common ground and melting some of the clique-barriers that were established in middle school, is that we were able to voice our thoughts and find a way to ground ourselves to reality. And in many cases it helped to define life goals wether they had anything to do with college or not. I know a lot of serious issues were dealt with. And a lot of frivolous ones too. Mostly what I remember is this:
1. It was safe. I never had anything leave the room and get spread around the school. And no one judged me for what I said. If I felt like there was a target on my back, we discussed it and explored options. Sometimes it was just my programmed paranoia and sometimes we found that I was not nearly as concerned as I should have been. My body issues and confusion about being a tomboy, not even a gender identity crisis, just a crisis over the line I drew in my comfort zone, were not condemned either. I liked that kind of unconditional care. Liked giving it. Liked receiving it.
The lack of judgement really was the key for me. No one told me I was crazy not to go to college; not to use my art to get by. My choices were supported. My dreams were held and cherished. Like I said- safe.
2. Boundaries were learned and respected. I forgot until a conversation with a friend to day that we did discuss that. We had handouts. I practiced it. But the only safe place to have boundaries was in the group session. It was not safe at home. Unfortunately I think that is far more common a thing than any of us really know. There is so much pressure to be what our parents were not that we feel an obligation to fill their shoes instead of our own. If you have parents who want you to be you and not them go hug them... right now. And say thank you.
3. Encouragement. I know that I got to stretch my empathy muscles in group. Of course I was not perfect. It took a long time to learn to find the right words. And with my best friend I often made mistakes trying to protect her by encouraging her to camoflague rather than boldly be herself. Thankfully I do not think I did any permanent damage to her though I did manage to damage our friendship with my clumsy, ham-handed tomboy ways. I've been, as I have alluded, in a RPG for a while now. I wanted Felicia Day's Guild experience. And I am finding it. But I am finding something else out about myself.
Encouragement is what I do best. I am one of those people that loves everyone for their flaws as well as their slight perfections (not a typo). Today I had a few minutes to catch up with a friend across the pond. He started out hitting on me cause I said "Heissenberg". But now he is being real and down-to-earth. And I think will realize that I am not the future girlfriend he is looking for. But I am what everyone needs wether they will admit it or not.... someone safe to talk to who doesn't care what kind of car, clothes or house you have. I genuinely want everyone to be happy. And that ultimately means being yourself... who ever that is.
That i think is my mission on this planet. And I think that it is my mission online too. I seem to get in to these conversations a lot. Feels pretty good to be the one to tell someone to keep their chin up, feet on the ground but reaching for the stars. And the more I encourage others the better I feel about myself. This must mean something. It probably does not mean that I will make loads of cash this way. But it does mean that the more I tell others this, the more I encourage myself and eventually I will bust out of the rut that I am in on a personal level.
It may actually be the only way to vanquish the fear that immobilizes me.
And now.... a nap.
Like I said, When I was in High School. I'm older now and not really able to sustain that adrenaline powerhouse like I did at 18. ;)