“Bystander power”: it’s an axiom used by almost every anti-bullying campaign taught in schools across the nation. We’re taught from a young age that having a voice is something to be used in situations of injustice, especially bullying. We’re taught that having a voice is something to be used to our advantage, and that our opinions matter. These programs not only instituted empathy in us, but also a sense of self-worth.
Or did they?
They should have. With the constant implications of the inherent value in human life, it would be fair to expect that we would adopt some sort of self-worth. But this was not the case. We were so focused on the value of others that we didn’t stop to think about ourselves. We were so busy looking for the evil in everyone else that we didn’t realize that it often lives in ourselves. We were never taught that sometimes, we end up being our own worst enemies, and as a result, none of us knew how to put out some sort of fight when this happened (which, of course, it was bound to).
It is, for this reason, understandable that many kids would feel more comfortable reporting a bullying situation than talking to someone about something as personal as their innermost thoughts. It’s just how we were raised. It’s how we were taught, and we didn’t grow up knowing any better.
How did we, as a generation, get over this? Well, the simple answer is that we didn’t – at least not collectively. Some of us found the strength to verbalize these thoughts, either to an adult or peers, just like we’d been taught to when it happened to someone else. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us who could not find the strength to bury our pride and depend on another human? Why are we so eager to help a friend in need, but so hesitant to reach out to someone when we are the friend in need?
I wholeheartedly believe that we, as a species, are all connected in some beautiful way. Whether it be the matter that makes us up or the feelings we all simply share I’m not sure, but I know that we share some sort of inherent unity with one another. I believe a large part of finding purpose is through others.
You are all you will ever have. This is both terrifying and comforting in some way. While many times people leave because you’ve simply played your part in their journey, your human shell will always keep its grip on you. Until your soul slips through the cracks in your ribs, the pump in your chest, rivers up your wrists, the skyscraper crawling up your back, and tornado in your throat will belong to you and stay with you because they are you.
True happiness is, in part, found in the acceptance of the fact that sometimes the tornado in your throat will go silent. It is found when you accept that you will need to borrow other people’s words sometimes, and that’s okay. When the ripples in the rivers in your wrists feel like waves, you will need other people to take you by the hand and remind you that, no matter what they look like, they’re only ripples. When the skyscraper in your back wants nothing more than to collapse, you will need someone to help you stand up straight. And when the pump in your chest grows too tired to continue, listen to and imitate the sound of someone else’s pulse.
You are a work of Mother Nature, but nature is not always perfect. There are natural disasters. Nature can cause great trouble, even to itself. But with the help of rescue teams and cleanup crews, the results of this damage can be quickly reversed. If you want them to help, you must stop shaking the ground around them. Stop pouring down sheets of rain, throwing thunderous cries and brilliant lightning, and they will come. Help is real, but the first step to receiving it is wanting it.
Bracing the storm that your head subjects you to is a tough battle, but know that you don’t have to do it alone. You are a part of nature. When the going gets tough, just remember: no flower ever bloomed without a little sun and water. Seeking out help from a friend is a beautiful option, and with their help, you’ll one day blossom into what you’re meant to be. But until then…there’s no rush.
You have time to grow.