Be Who You Needed

It hasn’t been easy. I mean, I can’t pretend that it’s easy, now. Not yet. Will it ever? Who knows? When I was in high school, dealing with silly girl problems, trying to find a balance between fun and school and getting lost in a world of drama, bullshit and things that both propelled me forward and pulled me backwards… when I was living in a garage during my senior year, drinking when I shouldn’t have, staying up too late and trying to figure out what I was even doing… when I was struggling with bills, trying to figure out how to juggle multiple jobs and somehow manage school, all while battling a mixture of lack of belief, confidence and self-esteem coupled with anxiety and a lurking, growing depression… I wish I had someone like who I am now to talk to.

My older siblings were out the door, dealing with their own problems and pushing family further and further away. I don’t want to lay all my family issues out in public; trust me when I say that things are significantly better now. But it wasn’t easy. A lot of my good friends were nearly finishing up their degrees while I was just starting off; I was years behind. But I’m going at my own pace now, I guess. I’m doing my thing, I’m grinding 8:30 to 4:30, often-times later than that, I’m ubering, developing websites and going to school full-time. It isn’t easy. It’s tough.

I’m not who I want to be. I’m getting there. I can’t say I’m 100% happy or completely satisfied, but I’m figuring it out. But I’m better.

I ran across this thing, earlier. It was one of those pretty images with text that said “Be who you needed when you were younger.” So, yeah, that’s the ultimate point of this post. It isn’t to brag about how much I’ve struggled, however I’m proud of those things and the fact that I’ve overcome them. It isn’t to tell you that your life could be worse, or better. It isn’t to shit out a bunch of platitudes about whatever you might be going through or how you’re better for it, which you probably are.

We’re all out of high school, at least most of the people reading this are, and we’re either diving into college or moving beyond it into our careers. I’m a mid-twenty-something and if I didn’t have such an excessively-draining schedule, I would love to explore, go on adventures and have great times. I want to make memories and live life to the fullest every day. I can’t do those things; not yet.

Most of us have younger siblings or friends who might be struggling with the same things we did years ago. We’ve been there. We don’t necessarily know it all and I know I’m far from the wisest person on your friends list, but I get it.

How many of us would have gotten by a little more smoothly if we had a role-model we could relate to? You’re blessed if you did and maybe this entire post is irrelevant. I had my peers, and I had people I looked up to, but no one who really got it. I didn’t have someone who I truly connected with who could smack me in the back of the head and say, “Abe, what the hell are you doing? Get your shit together. This stuff doesn’t matter. Focus on this instead.” Don’t get me wrong, I respect people beyond my generation, but there’s a difference between my dad telling me what I should do and a close friend who is a few years older—no offense, Dad.

The difference between being who you needed for someone else is that person choosing to not go to that party where something regrettable might happen, or choosing to go to a school despite what their high school girlfriend wants. It’s the difference between them wallowing in pity and depression and you getting them to open up, and you understanding what it’s like to be a twenty-something dealing with real-world stress that high school no-where-near prepared any of us for. I’m not telling you that you can save someone or fix someone; I’m saying you can be their anchor, their voice of reason and their soundboard because you get it. We all have these regrets and mistakes. We know what the loss was, the pain they caused and especially what we needed to hear but didn’t.

We get it. I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that every struggle, trial and bad experience we go through has the utmost potential to make us better, stronger and wiser. We use these things to push forward and hopefully not repeat bad calls or awful decisions. What I’m telling you is that you can help guide someone else. I don’t know who. You know who, though. It could be a younger sibling, kids who are just now attending your school whom you’ve recently become friends with.

We’ve been there. We’ve done a lot of things. And now we know better, at least better than others who have yet to experience these things. So speak up. Be a leader, be a role-model. Be the person you needed when you were younger.

Maybe you’re here and you don’t have anyone. Reach out. If you’re afraid I’m going to judge you, do it anonymously. Make a fake email, and fill out the contact form. I’ll get back to you quickly.