Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally people of all ages, races and religions are making videos to let you know that, even though there are challenging times growing up and coming out - junior high and high school, for instance - "It gets better." Eventually, if you hold on, you will overcome the bullies, you'll get stronger, and you will find love.
If you're going through a particularly tough time now and don't know how you can stand to face tomorrow, you can always talk to someone at 1-866-488-7386. (Donate $5 to The Trevor Project hotline by texting Trevor to 85944.)
Obviously, if you're being bullied or abused, the first step is to TELL SOMEONE. Get help. If the first authority figure you tell doesn't help, tell someone else. That almost goes without saying, but it takes courage to stand up or to admit something's hurting.
But here's the secret nobody's really telling you: Making it better is up to you.
Don't get me wrong - it really DOES get better with time, and it really DOES get better after high school, and everyone in those videos is right to share their stories of overcoming hardship, discrimination and suicidal thoughts - it really helps to hear that other people have been through what you're going through and come out okay.
But here's the thing: nothing happens if you don't do anything.
Let's try an experiment!
Sit in your chair, close your eyes and think very hard about getting up and going into the kitchen. Think about this for 30 seconds.
Okay, how far did you move?
You DIDN'T! Getting up and going into the kitchen is just like making your life happy - you have to take the small actions to change things!
Ah, but what action to take to "Make It Better?"
Many of the "It Gets Better" video stars talk about how great it was when they got out of their small town and moved to (wherever). While there's something to be said for getting away from an abusive situation, if your problem is depression, shame and suicidal thoughts, just changing your environment may not be enough. Besides, maybe you're not old enough to move out on your own, and don't want to join the 500,000 homeless LGBT youth already on the streets.
The most important thing you can do to "Make It Better" is to train your mind to be happy, and practice doing the things that improve your life.
You can't always control your environment. You can't control what other people say or do. Bad things sometimes happen to everyone at any age.
But you CAN learn to control how you respond.
I'm not saying it's easy, especially when you're in crisis or distracted by raging hormones! At the same time, it's possible, and thousands of years of research has been conducted!
Both ancient and New Age meditation traditions can provide you with inspiration and instruction in training your mind so that, no matter what happens to you, you can maintain a stable, happy mental state. Meditation and affirmations can even help you conquer negative thoughts and habits.
Easy for me to say, right? Of course I'm going to point you in that direction since I run MyOutSpirit.com, a social network for spiritual LGBTQ people, but hey, if starting a Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Silva Mind Training or other meditation practice doesn't sound good to you, I have another recommendation.
I recently read YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE, a book by Louise Hay that is all about retraining your mind to think happy, healing thoughts. It really helped me take responsiblity for my own happiness. I am happier every day because I read and applied some of the simple instructions in this book. Check it out at the library or click here to buy it from Amazon.com, and see if it helps you, too.
This book is easy to read. Some of it may seem silly (her mirror-work was famously mocked on Saturday Night Live), but with 40 million books sold, you have to admit something's working for people. Like any other inspirational book, read it with discernment. It's okay to feel silly. It's okay to not agree with everything. Keep your eyes and heart open. Experiment. Play. See what happens.
Whatever actions you choose to help you control your own mind and your own life and your own destiny - what you do to MAKE IT BETTER - know that there are millions of us supporting you and loving you unconditionally and eager to see the amazing person and life you create for yourself.
Hang in there.
photo: "Fight Club II" by Michael Winkler