While researching the bullying issue for a CHARACTER COUNTS! seminar, I came across Vicky Bell’s blog, where she posted a letter to her daughter in college. I think her advice moving and wise. Here’s her letter:
Letter to my daughter ( in the wake of senseless tragedy)
Hello my girl,
I wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun too. But I also have to have a mommy moment- bear with me here. I won’t take long, and I won’t be saying anything I haven’t already said in one form or another, but it is important.You may or may not have heard about the NJ college student who killed himself last week because his room-mate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things: One: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING. Two: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING. If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks nobody would have cared- he’d have gotten past it. People have short memories- life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape- they would have loved him afterward too. A few awkward moments and then life goes on.
But when you are young you don’t know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this, you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something? Well, it didn’t last. That’s kind of what it’s like- awful things happen, you feel like there’s a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.The students, a girl and boy, who were involved in the taping and posting– they are being charged with bias crime, invasion of privacy and possibly other things. Their college life is over. They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives– and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong- but also so kid-stupid. Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever- but even so- their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.So, my beautiful girl, never, ever think something is unfixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can’t get past it.And if someone is mean to you, and it isn’t something you can ignore– seek out people to talk to about it. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don’t know how to ask- try writing a letter instead. And right now- before you might need such help- think about who you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil sometimes we don’t always think as clearly- having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.Finally, don’t be mean. Don’t let other people be mean.
Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren’t as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself.
Treat people’s feelings like fragile little puppies- if you play with them- be gentle.
I love you so much and I know you really don’t need me to tell you this stuff…. but it’s my job.
Love and hugs,