Youth

 

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” -Maya Angelou

 

Throughout my years as a volunteer in the St. Louis LGBTQIA Youth community, I’ve heard the following phrase innumerable times, be it verbatim or a variation thereof: “Every night, I hope that I don’t wake up.” It’s a phrase -- and feeling -- that almost everyone experiences, yet it’s a feeling that often makes us feel the most alone. Sometimes, especially as young adults just coming into our own, that’s our reality: we would rather not have to face another day of (fill in the blank).

 

Life is difficult; it’s a series of triumphs, failures, and a whole mess of an in-between. Adolescence can for many of us be the hardest times we’ve ever faced, as to be expected by what is arguably the most important time period of development that the human body undergoes. And for many of us, especially those of us who are GSM (Gender/Sexual Minorities), adolescence has an even greater difficulty.

 

The walls that we LGBTQIA youth encounter are thicker, longer, taller, and so often seem insurmountable. It would be both a fallacy and a disservice to say that every day the sun will shine, and I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes it downright storms. And during those storms, it’s easy to get trapped in negative thoughts and moods. Those storms, whether they be full-blown hurricanes or merely brewing and stewing, are most often the reason that people don’t want to wake up in the morning.

 

It’s a vicious cycle; everything becomes a failure, regardless of your control over it. Every little thing seems to be your fault. Everyone seems to dislike you or be put off by you. The little voice in your head tortures you incessantly, and you question if you’re going insane. The world, seemingly, closes to you. I’m here to tell you that the world does not. Nor are you going insane. Nor does everyone dislike you, and trust me that not every little thing can be your fault.

 

Let me really drive this one home: waking up in the morning is not a failure. Waking up in the morning is a triumph. I’ve heard so many people say “I can’t do it” or “I can’t make it” without realizing that even as they speak those words, they are. Life is hard, and life can be very unfair and cruel. But life can be very beautiful as well, and if one searches for it, it’s the most beautiful thing.

 

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need support. It’s okay not to be okay. I hope that anyone who reads this, wherever they may be, whatever age they may be, and whomever they may be, knows that as they read these words, they are making it. And that with some resilience, a good support base and effort, they’ll keep on making it. Eventually it won’t be “I don’t want to wake up tomorrow” but instead, “I can’t wait.”

 

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” -Maya Angelou

 

 

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