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What’s the biggest discussion you’re avoiding?

by Liz_RO_Staff

Having a conversation you know will make someone angry or upset is hard...but can also be a relief. Ask your questions about the difficult conversations you've been avoiding, or even ones you've had that didn't go well. Maybe you've started dating a friend's ex, maybe you're wanting to come out but don't know how?

Share yours or read others' in the forums, and get help from the ReachOut community and our expert, Dr Romi.

Register here to post in the forums or comment on this blog.

Spring Break Survival Tips

by Meredith School

spring breakSun, surf and skimpy bathing suits. Those are the typical images that come to mind when people think of spring break. Even though plans come in all shapes and sizes - with some keeping it small and taking the week off to relax at home or enjoy a nice "staycation" on  a quiet campus - it's the big beach vacation that seems to get the most positive and negative attention (not to mention movies starring Selena Gomez and James Franco). 

It's not surprising. While fun and exciting, these trips to spring break destinations like Mexico and Florida can also be potentially risky. You are, after all, in a new, unfamiliar place crowded with strangers, many of whom may be drinking or taking drugs, sometimes to excess. So even if you aren't looking to get into an out of control situation, it's possible your surroundings or fellow spring breakers might make it happen.

That's why it's so important to be aware of what's going on around you. Taking small, extra precautions can help ensure you all have a good time while staying safe. Try simple strategies like:

  • Establishing a buddy system within your group
  • Always keeping an eye on your drink
  • Granting friends veto power over plans the moment something makes them uncomfortable

No one says you have to be super serious about it. Need to communicate non-verbally? Create a silly signal system to indicate you want to leave or even just stop talking to someone. Hoping to meet cute guys or girls? Ask your buddy to sign off and check in with you before and after you head off anywhere. Just making a point of removing the fear of being "that friend" will go a long way to helping everyone express their needs more clearly (this is actually true of non-safety matters as well and just generally a good group travel policy.) 

Above all, you're on spring break to have fun and get away from the stress of school for a while -- making your safety and health priorities doesn't mean giving that up. So make a game plan, bring your camera or camera phone and capture all those special moments so that you can look back with your friends later and have only happy memories.

For more information on surviving spring break, see the fact sheets below

Spring Break
Managing pressure to use drugs or alcohol
Getting wasted
Drinking 'smart'
Date rape drugs
A girl's guide to sex myths
A guy's guide to sex myths
 

Photo by Shutterstock

Become a ReachOut TXT Supporter in SF!

by Meredith

RO TXTExciting news! Inspire USA, the non-profit behind ReachOut.com, is launching the next phase of our newest project: ReachOut TXT, a peer-to-peer support and information text service for teens and young adults going through tough times. Like everything else we do, ReachOut TXT will be entirely youth-driven. The team behind this innovative and exciting program will include 15 passionate young people who will join us in-person at our San Francisco office. Interested? Read on!

Who are we looking for? This role would be perfect for any Bay Area young person between the ages of 16-24 years old who is passionate, friendly, and has experience providing peer support. Youth currently studying mental health or related disciplines are strongly encouraged to apply.

What will TXT Supporters do?

  • Receive extensive training on youth relevant topics and safety and crisis protocols
  • Learn to quickly respond to concerns and questions texted in by youth at a scheduled time each week
  • Develop a valuable skill set providing nonjudgmental support and information to youth in need
  • Make an important contribution to the ongoing youth-led mental health movement in California

How do you apply? Fill out the online application here for the spring session. Any questions? Contact textsupporter@inspire.org.

‘Forever Alone’ on February 14?

by Meredith Moods, Relationships

Let's face it. Valentine's Day can be hard to ignore. If you're single, it might make you feel sad, lonely or simply excluded. We get it and we're here to help. Today, we're reposting a blog from ReachOut Council member Brandon. Find out how he addresses the common challenges and how he plans to navigate the holiday. 

Walking past the Valentine’s Day section at the store can be really depressing when you feel have no one to celebrate it with. Sometimes you may feel like you’ll never find anyone, that you'll end up like the popular internet meme, “Forever Alone.” My name’s Brandon, and just like many other teens, I will be spending this holiday alone. It’s totally understandable why we get ourselves bummed out. There are the cards, flowers, chocolate, and fancy dates. And for some of us, it's just about feeling wanted. Well, when next week rolls around, try to gain a different perspective on the holiday. I know I have.

Although the history of the holiday has been masked by greeting card companies, it can generally be described as a day where you show your appreciation for loved ones. How we interpret "loved ones" is completely up to us. It could be your boyfriend/girlfriend, or it could be a family member, a friend, or anyone really. Instead of us focusing on how we don’t have the former, we should take that time and thank our friends and family for how much they mean to us and how much we love them.

Here are some valid (and some comical) reasons why being single can be beneficial:

- You can concentrate on doing things you enjoy. You don’t have to worry about pleasing someone else, so you can focus on yourself. Maybe finish reading that book you’ve always wanted to read or start up a new activity.

- Your decisions only affect you and don’t involve a partner's wants, needs or contradictory opinion. If you want to go to a certain restaurant, go for it. You have no one holding you back, no one you have to consult with first.

- You can save a lot of money. Let’s face it, relationships cost a lot of money. The dates, the presents, the clothes to look good, the gas money; it all adds up. When you’re, single you get to keep it all for yourself.

And when February 14 does roll around next week, here are some ideas thought up by all of us at ReachOut of what you can do instead:

"Make a date with friends!" –Chloe

"Buy those corny little kid valentines for your friends. It's not just a celebration of romantic love!"–Catherine

"Give your parents or best friend flowers and tell them how much you love them! Do something nice for yourself!" –Nich

"Do a nice thing and baby sit for a couple that can't get out that night because of kids." –Catherine

"Have a’ Single’s Awareness’ party with your friends where you just hang out, eat, and most importantly, have fun." - me

So just remember, no matter how you spend your Valentine’s Day this year, remember that you ARE loved by more people than you know, and just because you haven’t found the ‘right’ guy or girl yet, doesn’t mean you won’t!

Finally, you can check out these fact sheets and real stories that may also help you get through the holiday:

I'm single and I'm happy
Having difficulty finding the right person for you
Overcoming loneliness
Boys are confusing
Focus on who you are

Photo by Mandy Sousa

How do you plan to celebrate (or not!) Valentine's Day single or with your sweetie?

About Brandon
My name is Brandon. I am 17 years old and am currently a junior in high school. When I am not occupied with my part-time job or on my social networks (Facebook, Twitter, & Tumblr), I find myself active in National Honor Society, Rotary Interact, and Big Brothers Big Sisters all through my school. Outside of school, I volunteer at our local food pantry, am a student election judge, and am a worship leader at my church.  I look forward to helping those who are going through things similar to what I did, and to help then realize: I’ve been there. I’ve made it through. And I am now stronger than I ever thought I was before.

What Caterpillars Teach Us About ‘Hanging In There’

by Meredith

What are we saying when we tell a friend to "hang in there"? ReachOut intern Whitney weighs in on why the common expression of encouragement is actually a pretty powerful sentiment. Read on for new perspective on the supportive phrase.

The other day I passed a coworker in the hallway. He seemed to be having a rough day. I asked if he was ok, and he said no. We were not in a place to really talk about it, but I wanted to offer some support, so I said, “Hang in there.” I didn’t know what was upsetting him so I couldn’t offer anything more specific, and when we went back to work I felt a little low, feeling like I hadn’t been very helpful.

Sometimes when you see someone having a rough time, or when they tell you something about themselves or their life that they are struggling with, it can be difficult to know what to say. It is important to let them feel acknowledged  and heard, so you might not want to jump straight to giving them advice, but you still want to show support. It is in these moments we reach for phrases like “stay strong,” “it will get better,” and the classic “hang in there.” 

It can feel like we say these things when we don’t know what else to say, and maybe that is true, but that does not mean that they do not carry great meaning.

Think for a moment about a caterpillar. Most of us learned about the life cycle of a butterfly sometime in elementary school: eggs hatch on a leaf, baby caterpillars eat as much as they can until they get to a certain size and their hormones kick in to tell them “it’s butterfly time!.” And what do they do then?

They find a tiny branch, attach themselves to it, and let everything they thought they were turn into a formless goo while it rearranges itself into a being that can fly. All the while they look like they are just “hanging in there.” The most dramatic transformation of their whole life, and from the outside they look like a little cocoon, hanging on a tiny branch, doing nothing! 

So, what can we learn about just “hanging in there” from a caterpillar?

  • From the outside it can look like you are fine, and nothing is happening.
  • It may be a struggle, but that doesn’t mean something positive won’t come out of it
  • Your perspective may change. You may even improve the way you relate to the world (going from a clumsy mostly blind leaf-eater to a flying technicolor-visioned flower-sipper!)
  • It takes patience, and a little (or a lot) of faith that things will be ok when you finally break through

From this point of view, the simple “hang in there” is a bit like cheering someone on at a marathon.

 

You can interpret the phrase to mean something closer to:

  • “I can see you are going through a tough time, and I really hope you know how much I care about you.”
  • “You don’t have to be ok right now, and maybe things can’t be fixed right away, but let’s have a little faith that they are sorting themselves out.”
  • “I believe you can make it through this and I am there for you during and after”
  • “You are strong and capable of going through whatever you are going through”

 

Not bad, eh?

After all, it is our connection to each other, not just our words,that helps us through tough times.

And for those of you going through tough times, here’s another wonderful fact about caterpillars: Before caterpillars build cocoons and transform into butterflies, their wings start forming, imperceptibly, just under the layers of their skin. Everything they thought they were turns into goo before the delicate beginnings of their wings gain strength and take shape. But before they come apart and transform, they already have the beginnings of their stronger self inside of them. And so do you. Hang in there!

For more information on helping a friend in need, check out these fact sheets:

What to do when your friend is distressed
L
istening to a friend who needs you
I
 am trying to help a friend: why do I feel bad or stressed?

About Whitney

Hello all! My name is Whitney Will. I just graduated from St John's College in Santa Fe, where I studied the Great Books. Four years spent reading the authors whose ideas shaped the world I know helped me feel connected to the big picture of what humanity is doing on this one beautiful earth. A few months ago I moved from the mountains to check out life by the ocean while I think about graduate school. I am very excited and very grateful to be interning with Inspire USA and ReachOut.

 

 

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