Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If You Really Knew Me...

I’m sure that by now, most of you have heard of MTV’s new show “If You Really Knew Me,” and if you haven’t, do yourself a favor and tune in sometime. Basically, the show documents leaders of Challenge Day as they travel to different high schools to fulfill their mission of promoting “love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression.” In other words, specially trained individuals go to high schools across the nation in the attempt to illustrate how students do not have to feel alone with their troubles. In fact, by sharing your feelings and admitting your fears and concerns with others, you can actually find comfort, sometimes in the arms of a complete stranger. You may even learn something about diversity and how to treat others.

Why am I writing about this television show? Well, I guess I’m speaking from experience on how this type of workshop can help heal wounds that go much deeper than one realizes. While I have not participated in an actual Challenge Day, I’ve been a UC Ambassador for the past three years of my life, and much of what we do as Ambassadors reflects the Challenge Day mission. In these past three years, I dived into myself to discover what makes me tick as a human, and what I’ve been allowing to hinder me from reaching my full potential. In a nutshell, I started to pull back the layers to discover who I really am. The problem is that I have not truly allowed others to see that real “me” yet. This is where the television show comes in. I firmly believe that it is necessary to share your true self with others in order to find success in life.

My blog is my first step into sharing the real me with others. I’m starting to think that this individual blog is my next step because I’m going to share more personal issues in order to emphasize how important I find this concept. There are a lot of skeptics of the television show, and a lot of people who feel that sharing personal issues with others in high school is stupid and pointless. Some people insist that high school simply is not that hard and people should suck up and realize there is more to life than who is popular and who is not. Yes, there is more to life than popularity, but have these people ever wondered how the “trivial” negative comments people say to others affects one’s self-esteem for years? Not so trivial now, is it?

To stress my point, I’m going to finish the following statement as if I was still in high school.

“If you really knew me, you would know that I was called fat, heavy, dorky, etc. throughout my high school career, to the point where I thought I was not worth anyone’s attention. One guy even referred to me as “Moo,” in reference to a cow. Some of my ‘friends’ stopped inviting me to certain parties because I was not as pretty as them, and boys didn’t flock to me as much as them. I had other girls try to hand me down boys that they were not interested in, thinking they were doing me a favor by giving me their unwanted suitors.”

If you really knew me, you would know that while these comments and situations occurred during middle school and high school, the effects lasted with me through most of college. Eventually, I stopped socializing with those that made me feel that way and started to take pride in the determined, motivated individual I am today. How did I begin to find happiness with who I am? Through the Ambassador Program and its mission to bring love and connection among those who share similar feelings. After the recent breakup, some of those ugly, negative feelings started to creep back into my life, making me feel alone, but I just keep reminding myself that there are lots of others who feel the same way, and by connecting and sharing my feelings with them, I suddenly don’t feel so alone.

So for those of you who make fun of MTV’s “If You Really Knew Me,” and can’t understand how high school can be so difficult for people, count yourself lucky that you did not have any problems, although, I find that VERY difficult to believe. Maybe it wasn’t things that people said to you, but what you said to others? Ever feel like you owe someone an apology? Ever feel like you regret making that joke at the expense of someone else’s self-esteem? Looking back, there are some apologies that I can think of that I need to make…

It’s never too late to fix a wrong. It’s never too late to share the real YOU with others.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How Do You Define A True Friend?

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” Familiar words that bring different meanings for everyone. For some, it reminds them of the first time they heard the Beatles rocking out to the timeless tune. For others, it reminds them of that also timeless television show, The Wonder Years. For me, it is much simpler than that. For me, the words remind me of my friends, and the countless ways they seem to pull me up when I’m down.

To say that this past month of July was terrible would be a lie. To say that his past month of July was enjoyable would also be a lie. So I’m going to just stick with this: I hope August brings better memories for me than July. From a death in the family to my first true breakup, I experienced some intense lows this past month. Yet, when I look back to my favorite rare, but happy moments in July, I realize that I had the best memories with my friends. In the midst of the constant tears and expressionless looks, my friends were able to force a smile and a laugh out of me. More importantly, they showed me that every storm eventually ends. And after every storm, comes a rainbow.

I could go on and on with the little details about how my friends helped me through this difficult time, but that’s not my style. Instead, I would like to take the significant lessons I learned from my friends, and share them with you, my blogger friends.

The most important lesson I learned about friendship in this past month is that a true friend doesn’t necessarily need to give advice all of the time. A true friend can just listen and be the shoulder to cry or vent on. I can’t tell you how many times I called my friends over this past month, and I would ramble on and on about my woes. The best part? They let me ramble. They did not interrupt. They did not try to talk me out of my path of reason. They simply listened. By the end of each conversation, I released whatever negative emotions I had on my chest, and I felt like a new person. A happier person.

I also learned that a true friend never allows you to feel alone. Whether it be a simple text during the day that says “Thinking of you today, love” or a Facebook post that has a Text From Last Night, true friends drop little notes into your life that remind you of the good company you keep. True friends surround you with love, comfort and support to show you that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel. And in that light, you will find them waiting with open arms.
On the same note, while a true friend never lets you feel alone, he/she also gives you the freedom and necessary space to develop as a strong, independent individual. The best way to overcome a crisis is to overcome it on your own. You will find hidden strengths and positive traits about yourself that you’ve never seen before. You will feel like a whole new person. A true friend helps you discover this new person inside you by forcing you to look within yourself. When you say “not possible,” a true friend says “why not?” They push you to become the bigger and better person that they knew was within you all along.

So what do I hope you get out of this? I hope you get a better understanding about the impact a friend can have on an individual. Personally, I know I would have survived the month of July. I mean, people do move on from struggles. Nevertheless, I learned that I’m much stronger than I could ever have imagined. And honestly, it feels amazing knowing I learned that with just a little help from my friends.