High School sucked. These may seem like harsh words coming from an ICTMN editor who is 45 years old (Now 49 in 2016) and is also an author and vice-president of his own company. But they are three words that make up who I am today to a pretty large extent. I spent countless years trying to recover from this sentiment.
A few days ago I decided to take action on an idea that had been marinating in my mind for some time. I don’t know if you have seen any of the videos online where young people have written thoughts onto index cards which relay sad and sometimes disturbing messages in direct relation to their self-worth.
These children say they cut themselves, have been molested, treated horribly and to me, these statements should not go unanswered. But then I thought who wants to hear from a 45 year old about their life? So, taking into account what my wife Delores said to me about reaching today’s youth as if I was that age again, I decided to write back in a video the same way they had sent a message to me.
I also wrote as if I was talking to myself at about 15 years old.
What I wrote surprised me, and I noticed several tears falling at the same time I was writing to this younger version of me – who at one time was navigating through life in a state of apprehension, confusion and loneliness. I just wanted to be popular. Because when you are popular, people treat you nice.
In my video, I tried to tell our young people to hang in there and since I wasn’t really talking, these words, written on index cards at least to me, seemed to come across a bit more gentle.
Before you read any further, I’d like to ask you to watch the video: (Below or click this link – http://goo.gl/mhoAi)
Please share this video with any young person who might need to hear a message of understanding. The Creator gave me (and all of the wonderful people at ICTMN) the gift to write. We spend our lives working to express ourselves and convene a message – In this sense I feel lucky that I am able to express to another young person just how important it is to stay with us – hopefully these words might reach them.
Yes, I was molested; I am not ashamed that I was taken advantage of by a person that was unconcerned for my well-being. Because this person was bad, doesn’t make me bad, such a simple statement that is unfortunately hard to get. I say this because I know there are others out there that feel like they are alone, helpless or don’t deserve any better than a terrible life of suffering.
High School may have sucked, I might have sat alone quite often, I might have been treated like a reject all the time, but I decided I was going to succeed—no matter how hard life was. I am happy to say, I think I’ve done pretty good. But Holy Cow, it has not been easy.
I say this to you young warriors, what if I had taken my life? To think of all the great things that I never would have done, seen or experienced. I have heard that it is always darkest before dawn. In this case all of this is true.
Within a day of posting this video, I have received numerous messages of thanks for the video and a few hundred have watched it. Michael Bucher, the musician whose music is in the video, said he was overwhelmed with honor that we used his songs. I think they are perfect. Bob Joseph of WorkingEffectivelywithAboriginalPeoples.com has posted the video on his site for the benefit of Canadian Indigenous communities. Additionally, several people on Twitter have sent me private messages thanking me for the message.
People have said such nice things, I am overwhelmed, I really was just trying to write to myself at 15. I truly hope this video can help people.
So I say again, Stay With Us Young Warriors, We Need You Here. And as I say in my video, Later Gater.
If you are suffering, please reach out. The Native Youth Hotline is (877) 209-1266 and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is (877) 273-TALK. You can also visit these websites for additional resources: www.YouAreNotAloneNetwork.org, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org and www.NativeCry.org
Vincent Schilling, an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Pow Wows editor for Indian Country Today Media Network, is also the executive vice-president and co-owner of Schilling Media, Inc., a Native American-owned media corporation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is also an award-winning author and radio host of the APCMA-nominated online Native radio program Native Trailblazers. You can follow him on Twitter at @VinceSchilling.