Being a teenager is tough. We’re constantly bombarded with the pressures that come with being in high school.
We’re struggling to succeed and meet high expectations. We’re trying to navigate through friendships, love and everything that comes in between. It can be confusing as heck.
Recently, Finn Stannard, a 17-year-old student from Sydney’s St Ignatius College, captured the essence of growing up–the good and the bad.
In his speech to teachers, parents and fellow students (over 1,000 of them), he mustered up the courage to publicly come out as gay.
Finn spoke about what it’s like to be different in high school and the countless rumours and unpleasant jokes that are associated with being different.
Personally, it all hit a lil too close to home for me. If I was still a student and I had heard Finn’s speech, I truly believe I would’ve come out earlier instead of repressing my sexuality.
I’m extremely thankful for his visibility.
Being different can be tough, but we don’t have to do it alone.
1. You need to be the change you want to see
Most people would rather tell people what to do rather than follow their own advice. But you can’t change the world if you can’t change yourself.
It’s simple. Be mindful, thoughtful and considerate. Be the one that calls out your mate for an unintentional derogative joke.
Stop letting your mates get a free pass when they use ‘gay’ as a synonym for something bad. Pull up that insensitive comment. Stick up for someone when you hear a nasty rumour about them.
And if you’re making the jokes, think before you speak. A cheap laugh to you can be super painful to the person who’s the butt of the joke. Don’t be a dick.
2. You don’t have to go it alone
Stop being so hard on yourself and seek support–whether it’s a mate, a parent, a teacher or counsellor. We’re fragile beings and allowing secrets to build up is unhealthy. So, boys and girls (boys, I’m mostly looking at you) it’s okay to struggle, just know you don’t have to struggle alone.
Having friends that appreciate you is one of the most important aspects of life. Finn said that ‘they make the good times even better and help us through the bad ones.’
Unfortunately, you may not find your true friends until after high school–or after you share a pretty big secret like Finn did. But once you find your crew, things will start looking up. They’ll keep you in check, support you and motivate you.
3. Denying who you are only limits your ability to be happy and give happiness
‘A life living behind a mask is not one any person should have to live.’
Announcing yourself to the world is a truly terrifying thought. As time goes by, the bigger the burden can become.
But there comes a day where you will eventually say ‘fuck what everyone else thinks, I’m me.’ Trust me, I know that this is easier said than done, but hiding who you really are will only hurt you more in the long run. There will come a time were you have to put yourself first.
We’re still learning about ourselves. Believe me when I say that not everyone has it all figured out. Even the people who look like everything is perfect are struggling to get through it all–that’s what growing up is; not actually figuring everything out but realising that nobody really ever does.