Stephanie Perkins Blog About Stephanie Books On Writing News Extras



9.23.2010

IT GETS BETTER

I didn't intend for this to become PSA week, but there's one more news story that caught my eye, and . . . I can't NOT talk about it. I promise that I'll return to posting pictures of attractive people with foreign accents soon.

Last night, Robin Benway (Yay, Robin!) tweeted this:




(Why, yes, I do get all of my news from Twitter.)

While this specific sentence was not news to me—Dan Savage is one of my heroes, too*—I was curious as to why he was making headlines again. When I clicked on the link, I was taken to a NYT article called "Showing Gay Teenagers a Happy Future."

It's about a YouTube project called "It Gets Better" that was created by Savage in response to the recent suicide of Billy Lucas, a fifteen-year-old who was bullied by his classmates for being gay. The project is aimed toward LGBT teens in middle school and high school who are suffering from bullying and depression, and it's a collection of videos made by LGBT adults.

Their message is simple: Life gets better after high school.

Now, I was not a happy teenager. In fact, I was a deeply unhappy teenager. And though my problems were minuscule compared to what gay teenagers face, they were still problems. Real, legitimate problems. And the ONE PIECE OF ADVICE that made a difference was when an adult who was not one of my parents** took the time to pull me aside and told me those exact same words:

It gets better.

She told me a story about a girl she knew who was a lot like me, who felt no connection with her peers, who was miserable in high school, and how the MOMENT she left . . . her life got better.

I never forgot it. Those words pulled me through some incredibly difficult years. And you know what? That adult was right. The moment I was out of high school—the day after graduation!—I was a happier person.

"It gets better" is a message I want to shout from the rooftops.

Middle school and high school flat-out suck, for a lot of people. And when you're trapped in it, day in and day out, it's impossible to see your own future clearly. This message, as hard as it is—tough it out, it'll be better later—is crucial. It saves lives.

Did you know that nine out of ten gay teens are bullied? That they're four times more likely to commit suicide?***

Please please please, I am begging you. If you know any LGBT teenagers, send them to Dan Savage's YouTube page and have them listen to Dan and Terry's (his partner of sixteen years) message. Show them the links in the sidebar.





And if YOU are a gay teenager, or if you're ANY teenager suffering from depression, I want to assure you with all of my heart—with every fiber of my whole entire being—that it does get better. I promise. You will have an AMAZING life. I know how horrible school is, how endless it feels, but I assure you . . . it does end. You can move anywhere you want. You'll find friends like yourself, people who understand you, people who will love and support you.

It gets better.

Hang in there.


*Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist for Seattle's The Stranger. His column Savage Love runs in alternative papers across the country. He provides frank, honest advice for people who can't get it anywhere else. (It's also very, very, very NSFW—not safe for work!) He's the author of several hilarious and inspiring books, and his story about the death of his mother on This American Life (episode: "Return to the Scene of the Crime") is one of the most powerful narratives I've ever heard on radio. I like him. A lot.

**Parents, of course you should also be telling this to your children. And, for the record, my wonderful parents assured me of it frequently! But it makes a difference—A BIG GIGANTIC HUGE DIFFERENCE—to hear this kind of support from someone who (you don't feel) has to say it to you. You know?

***Linkage

18 comments:

  1. I love you for this post. I can think of about six of my friends that need to see it. Thank you.

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  2. This is so beautiful. I can name at least ten people off the top of my head (myself included) who'd have loved to hear this while in high school.

    It's a gross over exaggeration but when I was having a hard time my parents always used to tell me that the only people who enjoyed high school were the ones who were never going to have it any better. Living a good life is the best revenge!

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  3. I watched it last night after you linked on twitter. It made me tear up even though my high-school days weren't that bad. I did have body-image issues though (as I'm sure most teens do) and one of the things I focused on was finishing high school and leaving Small Town.

    It's so true. It does get better. About seven-months after graduation I had two new friends who are still my BFFs to this day and a man I'd end up marrying.

    Hopefully the message reaches those in need.

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  4. It really does! Much <3!

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  5. Great and important post, Stephanie <3. I follow the blog of a wonderful Swedish girl called Sandra. She writes beautifully, sometimes about being left out in high school. Her texts are abbreviated in English, but it's still a lovely blog.
    It's rodeo.net/niotillfem

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  6. Yes! A great message.

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  7. How weird. I was just thinking yesterday about how much I really didn't love high school, especially the interpersonal/social stuff and I was wondering at what point things got better and I really felt like I was living MY life, not just some torturous you -will-never-fit-it-ever-kind of nightmare.

    I think it was college.

    But It Does Get Better.

    I promise.

    Amazing post.

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  8. I remember the mother of someone I knew told me I just had two more years to get through, and life would get better. She was right and wrong; high school tendencies don't just disappear in people when they leave high school, but once I was out in the world, I grew and found a lot more people on my wavelength. I also found I had a lot more permission to live how I wanted--because I could now give myself that permission. I could choose whom to have in my life and whom to avoid.

    Hearing that woman say that helped me remember that two years wasn't forever; they would pass. And awful as they were, they did.

    Great post, Steph.

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  9. You may get your news through Twitter, but lately I've been getting a lot of my news from you, so....THANKS! : )

    It is so hard to look at your perky, beautiful self and think of you being miserable in school.....I'm SO so so glad you wrote and shared this! I wish every troubled kid out there would just hold on and believe that it WILL get better! (Makes me want to hug everyone I know that is in school.)

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  10. Grrrrreat message. It really does get better... WAY better.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I, too, get my news from Twitter.

    This is a great post, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing!

    Frankie

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  12. It's so true! School is a toxic environment for most people. You're thrown together with people who you might not connect with. When you leave you have so much more freedom and start meeting people on the same wavelength.

    Great post :)

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  13. College was SO much better. I spent most of middle school with my nose in a book, and I see my daughter doing the same thing right now. When you go out into the world, it's easier to find YOUR people, and then life gets amazing.

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  14. I was bullied a lot my junior year of high school by some very mean girls who liked to pick on the nice kids who didn't know how to fight back.
    Life was really hard for a while and I felt like high school was a truly terrible place, and for a while it was hard to even walk into school without wanting to just run away.
    I just graduated from high school, and I think my happiness grows more every day that I'm not in that hellhole. Life did get better and I think it will be great when I'm completely finished with my formal education. :)

    I will be passing this on to a couple of my friends. Thanks, Stephanie!

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  15. I adore this project so much. So many of the people who have contributed have made my heart simultaneously swell and break.

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  16. Hi Stephanie,
    I look in on your blog about once a month just because I used to work with you and you and Jared are cool. This is the best thing I have ever read on your post! Thanks....it should be put at the back (or the front) of all your books because it is so important for young folks to know that IT DOES GET BETTER!
    peace girl,
    ron

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  17. Totally choked up. This is great. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Hmm... this was a fabulous post, Steph, but I can't really relate to it. Because, personally, I love high school! But I can think of some friends (and some people I don't really know) who would definitely benefit. Thanks!

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