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The One High School Survival Tip You Need To Know

by Liz_ReachOut School

Take it from our forum members, high school can be whatever you make it. Read some more words of inspiration from our forum members:

Starting high school ?

sunkiss_'s Avatar

Ive been asked so many questions by freshman or incoming freshmen about what is highschool really like . I guess its different depending what school you attend, what ill tell you just like ive told them. Highschool is not like what happens on movies lol you dont get shoved into lockers (theyre actually pretty small ), there may be clicks but not as bad as people make them seem . Highschool is a place where youre gnna find who you really are, are you the athlete ? The choir geek ? ( ** Im a choir geek & proud **) lol band nerd? Do you love math ? No matter what you are , & what you enjoy, Embrace it nomatter what ANYONE tells you. Make newfriends & help people , you will feel amazing about yourself just by helping someone open theyre locker, or by sitting next to someone that is eating alone. Make highschool your best experience ever ! Create it & enjoy it (:
- sunkiss_

 

Lightoflife9878's Avatar
Hey Sunkiss! 

Thanks for your positive and encouraging words to those starting high school. It is definitely a big transition for a lot of people, but like you have said, there is no reason to feel like you must act a certain way to fit in...Great to have you around on the forums.

- Lightoflife9878

 

Join the conversation here or register for the forums.

This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).  It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.  CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit: calmhsa.org

Gay but no one knows

by Liz_ReachOut College, Friends, Mental Health, School

Two young teen boysWhen a forum member told the ReachOut community they were gay but their friends all thought they were straight, and said, 'I need someone to know and to tell me its going to be okay,' this is what they got:

"Thank you for being brave to come out to us here! You're great, and it will all be okay! There's no need to rush into coming out, especially if you don't think you are in a safe environment to do so. But I promise it will all be okay, and we still love you <3"

"Not only will everything be okay, but it is MORE than okay to be you. That is the one and only thing we will always be growing with until we die. Being you. If people dont like it. That is their issue. Does not mean those poeple are everyone. There are so many people that will love you for just being you. I already love you. You are my friend. Because no matter what size, shape, gender, race, or sexuality. We are all one, and need to respect that. I would youtube the word. "sonder" It ia an amazing 2 minute or less video on this new and fascinating word. It was posted on my birthday, and ever since. My life has changed. You are loved. Being attracted to someone is NOT a bad thing, and expressing your feelings neither. If anyone has anything to say about anything? It is a mirror reflection of something they can't fix in themselves. It will be more than okay. because there are towns out there that have more LGBTQIA that "straight" couples You are loved, and if you need to be reminded again. Hey you. I love you"

When the original poster wrote back to say, "...i feel like because im older that i should have came out by now but im just starting to figure myself out," the supportive responses just kept on coming: 

"Hey, starting to figure yourself out is a really great thing! If it makes you feel better, I came out only last year, and I was a sophomore in college then!"

"I just wanted to tell you that it WILL be okay. :} ... I can tell you it will make you hella happy to finally put a step in the direction of your real self. If you're not certain yet, then don't come out so suddenly; just go at your own pace. Sometimes it is pretty hard admitting something to yourself, or even digging deep enough into yourself to find the real you. When you reach that point, all you'll feel is liberation in finally finding everything. So it will be okay Danielle, we're here for you and we hear you; now smile? All will be well!"

"I understand that feeling of "I should have come out already or had myself all figured out way sooner." I've had that same feeling before. The thing is, nobody has it all figured out. And we all come to terms with things at different times. I came out in terms of my sexual orientation at 12, but didn't start really exploring my gender identity until like ten years later. Everything has its time. So, no pressure, okay? Give yourself time to explore and ponder and reflect. You don't need to come to a certain answer or conclusion. There is no deadline. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong project."

If you need support around coming out or exploring your sexuality and/or gender identity, register here for the forums or post in the LGBTQIA thread and get the help you deserve.

Spring Break Survival Tips

by RO_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

Full Circle: From Misfit to Mouthpiece:

by RO_Meredith School

robin wadenJust in time for Bullying Awareness Week, today's guest post from Robin Waden, a contestant in the Miss North Carolina pageant and former victim of bullying, reflects on the importance of peer support. Check it out below and be sure to continue the coversation around  bullying in our forums where yesterday's live chat on the topic lives on!  

My name is Robin Waden. I'm a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as a contestant in the Miss North Carolina USA 2013  state pageant. Growing up was a bit different for me. My father was enlisted in the Navy years before I was born. He moved my mother and my sister from the state of North Carolina to Hawaii where I was born in Honolulu. Over the next 16 years, my family moved to various cities in Hawaii, California and Washington State.  While I cherish many of the memories and experiences I had as a Navy brat moving from place to place, some memories are bittersweet. I transferred to at least four schools between California and Washington State before my family finally settled in a small town in Washington State when I was in the fourth grade. I remember always feeling out of place with other students having no problem expressing their indifference toward me.

Nearly every day from fourth grade to junior high school, I endured bullying and verbal abuse from other students.  I was told that I was worthless, ugly, and unintelligent. Even if I changed the style of my clothes, or my hairstyle, other students would find ways to harass me. When I was 11 years old, I caught the chicken pox near the end of the school year. I broke out in blisters from head to toe that left me with many dark scars and keloids that remained with me for years. I wore make up to hide the scars and to help “change” my look, but the harassment didn't end. Another student even stopped me at the bus stop just to tell me that it didn't matter how much make-up I wore, I would never be “pretty.” As hard as I tried to not let the comments and bullying get to me, it still took its toll. I can still remember standing in the mirror at 12 years old looking at my scars with tears in my eyes asking God, “If you didn't make me ‘pretty,’ why couldn't you have made me smart?” My grades had suffered severely throughout elementary and junior high school, and I thought I would never make it beyond high school. Little did I know that it was childhood depression and anxiety that caused much of  the strain of my grades.

It was in high school when things began to turn around. I finally began to speak up for myself. Slowly but surely, the walls began coming down. I would not have begun to break these barriers that were built around me if it wasn't for the friends and positive people who came into my life throughout the years. They helped me to keep my identity and became my emotional support system. After my father retired from the Navy, my family and I moved for the last time in my junior year to my parents' home state of North Carolina. At times, I found myself dealing with similar issues of bullying that I endured as a young teen, but I could now stand up for myself and make sure my voice was heard when other students tried to put me down.

In my senior year, I not only completed high school, but received a full scholarship due to my volunteer work and my father being a disabled veteran. In addition, I also received another scholarship to a local community college. I made the Dean’s list my freshman year at my community college and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro my sophomore year. In December of 2011, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre.

In the last months before my graduation, I came upon the Miss USA website and found the page for the preliminary rounds for Miss North Carolina USA state pageant. I had admired the Miss USA state pageants since I was young and grew up watching them on television, but I never thought about actually competing. I decided to submit an application and headshot and was surprised to find an inquiry from the staff of the Miss North Carolina State pageant the following morning. At the time, because of graduation and finances, I could not compete in the pageant that year. However, shortly after graduation I submitted again. Though a series of interviews with the pageant officials of the Miss North Carolina USA pageant, I was awarded the title of Miss High Point USA 2013. This November I will be competing for the title of Miss North Carolina USA. The young women who are elected for their regional title serve as ambassadors to their cities for their cities, and I wanted to represent “The Furniture Capital of the World” the best I could. While my regional title is the first step of preliminaries to the state pageant, it has allowed me to amplify the message I’ve long wanted to send about the pressing social issues in schools and colleges. It has also helped me to get involved with more local organizations including the Special Olympic of North Carolina. If anyone would have told me that this is where I would be ten years ago, I would have thought they were lying to me. The thought of going from a teen that was bullied, to a college graduate with a shot at being the next Miss USA, still sounds almost unreal to my own ears, but it’s the truth.

The most important element when dealing with bullying is to speak up. Bullying will not be solved with silence. You have to raise your voice and speak up when someone is making you uncomfortable. Talk with people you trust, and make teachers, counselors and even the SRO ( School Resources Officer) aware of the situation so they will know what is going and can take the next appropriate step. Offering encouragement to those dealing with this is a big part of the healing process. I will never forget those who spoke and stood up for me when my voiced was silenced from fear and humiliation. I can never thank them enough and would not be who I am and where I am today without them.

Adults and children alike are dealing with this issue that keeps repeating itself in different forms. Make that difference in his or her life. Lift him up and offer encouragement, or  help her know that she has a voice. If you've ever been made to feel you don't have a voice or made to feel like you are worth less than you truly are, you are not alone. We are everywhere and we have a voice that is strong. So speak up, and speak out.

About Robin
Robin Waden is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned her Bachelor degree in Theatre. She is looking forward to soon pursue a career in costume design and special effects make up. Robin will be competing in the Miss North Carolina State pageant this November with hopes to compete in the Miss USA national pageant. Robin has been working to raise awareness against bullying in schools by talking with local school officials as well as law enforcement on how to appropriately deal with this issue.

From Bullied to Belting Ballads

by RO_Meredith Music, School

Meredith O'ConnorAs you may already know, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In honor of that, today's blog post comes from Meredith O'Connor, a young singer-songwriter who has adopted a platform of anti-bullying and even incorporated that theme into some of her music. Below, she explains how personal experience inspired that choice. For more, check out her debut single, "The Game," and her bio below.

My name is Meredith O’Connor. I'm a singer/songwriter based in Long Island, New York. If you're familiar with Build A Better planet, an FM radio station that promotes community service, you may have heard my debut single. But what you may not know about me is that I used to be a victim of bullying. It comes in many different forms, but I experienced it verbally, as soon as I got to the age where cliques formed. Being an "artistic soul" I was exiled by my friends and left to feel like I had done something wrong. Like in many cases, I felt blame for somehow bring that unwanted attention on myself.  Looking back, I can see the main difference between then and now is that I am able to reconize that their bullying wasnt my fault, Now I am proud of who I am and own that I am different, outgoing, creative, driven and passionate about what I do. Back then, appreciating my talents, or even acknowledging them, was hard because of my environment. My home life was fine and I was kind to people. Yet, that wasn’t enough in school. It also didn't help that I wasn’t the best athlete.  Instead, I was left to mostly appreciate the beauty of the arts on my own.

The friends that I did have helped, but my other peers presented me with a challenge no young person ever wants to face:  isolation and bullying.  So I made friends in dance classes,  voice lessons, and in community shows. Lucky for me, my parents understood that I was different and needed to explore places where I could be accepted for the person I was. As an added bonus, my talents also improved as I got more significant roles, and I learned that I was not alone.  This discovery of my talent made me realize I had a gift. I hope I can inspire you to find your gift, even if it isn't one your peers notice.

Eventually that exploration and hard work paid off. When I was fifteen, I signed my first contract with City Model Agency. There, no one criticized how I looked, they were kind and professional.  I loved that environment, and quickly became known as the ”down to earth” one.

The experience taught me that you can be who you want to be, not what those who judge you label you as. I am a model and actress because I work hard towards those goals and create distance from those  who don't believe in me. And I also know now to to stay true to myself, and to not judge others. My experience being bullied reminds me that there are people out there who still need help.  Today, I work with my manager and label to promote tolerance and kindness. I specifically choose to have a platform of anti-bullying, since I'm so passionate about it. I have a self titled EP about my life and experiences overcoming this challenge. The message of that album is the same one I'll leave with you here: Be proud of who you are, and never give up! 

About Meredith
Meredith O'Connor is a singer-songwriter  with a self-titled EP that will soon be released and distributed in stores nationally. For information on its release, see her Facebook  page: Meredith O'Connor. She hopes to touch the lives of teenagers like her, and would love to hear from you.

For more information on bullying and what to do if you or someone you know is a victim, check out the following fact sheets:

What to do if you are being bullied 
What to do if someone you know is being bullied
C
yberbullying
Bystanders role in cyberbullying
W
hat is girl vs. girl bullying?


 

 

 

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