I just finished “13 Reasons Why” and am processing my reactions.
Well done show, but I think my main frustration is that at no point did any of the kids open up to an adult, except at the verrrrry end.
I realize this would’ve made it a very short series, because any grown-up worth the title would’ve shut that crap down immediately.
Here’s what teens, 20-somethings need to know
Any teens (or early 20-somethings, or anyone, really) reading this, please know these 13 things:
1. Life can be really hard. The fact that it’s hard in no way means you are a failure. It just means you’re human.
2. Everyone else in your classes does NOT have it figured out. Not even close.
3. Depression is a liar. Do not believe it. It’ll try to get you to despair using all kinds of slick strategies, but it is still a liar.
4. Depression is a cross-fit body builder. It’s really strong. You might know deep down that it’s lying, but feel too overpowered to do anything. This is when the people around you can help.
5. There is no shame in asking for help, in the same way that you wouldn’t think me a loser for asking for help in moving a heavy couch. But the thing is, I actually have to say the words, “Can you help me move this couch?” If I’m standing there and someone asks me if there’s something wrong and I tell them everything’s fine, they’re not going to read my mind and know I need help moving the couch.
6. You have worth beyond description.
7. No, really. You are worth so much. You are worth someone’s time and effort to help you through this.
8. No one has the right to violate your body, ever. If this happens, it is zero percent your fault. You will very likely feel shame, but you are not the person in the wrong. Tell someone, and let him or her help you find healing and justice.
9. Even if someone violated your body, shamed you on social media or spread rumors about you, that doesn’t lower what you are worth. You still have worth beyond description.
10. Every adult in your life not only was once a teenager, but he or she survived some crappy stuff as a teenager. Don’t assume that what you have to say will shock the adult(s) you’re telling it to. Very likely they could tell you a similar story of shame and hurt.
11. Scientific fact: The human brain is still developing until the mid-20s. Let some other brains help you process stuff.
12. You are the oldest you have ever been. You might think you should be able to handle things on your own. But you are still figuring things out. This is why you have family and friends and teachers and other people in your life. None of us is meant to be able to do it on our own.
13. Life is full of pain and brokenness. But it also can be filled with wonder and joy and strength. Today might suck; tomorrow could be better. Or the day after. If you can’t believe in that possibility anymore, tell someone you need help, in those words.
You are worth so much
The main takeaways? You are worth so much, and people aren’t mind readers.
Hang in there. Things get better, but sometimes we all need help to make it so.
Penny Walker is an editor and stepmom to three kids: 21, 18 and 15.