Beware the angst of youth.
When you have no other way to voice yourself, then you have no other language beside your actions. And you try. You try to fit. You go along to get along but the frustration in your heart makes it impossible to play along.
Know what I mean?
Next, you find yourself in compromising positions, doing things you know you’re not supposed, which is fine, until you’re caught —until you’re cornered by someone, maybe it’s a teacher, maybe a principal, maybe it’s a cop or your parents, and then they ask you the most commonly asked question.
They ask you “Why?” to whom you answer, “I don’t know,” of course because there is honestly a part of you that doesn’t know why you do what you do. You’re not even sure why you say what you say. You just do it. But deep down, you know there’s a reason. You know there’s something in there but it doesn’t have a name or a face or anything you can describe.
Deep down, there’s a force in you. There’s an energy. There’s a voice that cannot find the words to speak. There’s this thing with no understandable definition—there’s just something inside, like an irritation that you’re trying to solve, like something unstoppable and it won’t go away.
Even when you promise yourself, “I won’t do this,” or “ I won’t do that,” you still find yourself, somehow, in the same places, all the time, doing the things you know shouldn’t do, but yet you do it because the action fills a need and gives a voice to the things you cannot say. Plus, let’s be honest. the saying fits. Being bad feels pretty good sometimes.
Anger’s a bitch though, isn’t it?
But here’s the real bitch, —if I asked you what are you angry about, what would you say? Would you be able to tell me or would you answer with the most common answer, which is “I don’t know!”
There is too much to process and too many things happening at once. Meanwhile, all you want to do is to find your place in the circle.
You just want things to work out right. Maybe you want the ideas in your head to go away for a while, which I get, which is why the behavior seems to fit because what better way to express yourself than to act. This way you can show the world exactly how you feel.
It’s good to find freedom, right?
It’s good to feel alive, like you’re tight on the wire and the electricity is so intense, —you’re moving fast, you’re slick, you’re high, rolling around like you know what you’re doing, and playing the role that seems to fit you best.
But meanwhile, that’s not you.
This isn’t you at all. This is just something that makes sense because you understand the rules of engagement. This is just a way to speak the words you could never say. And I get it; the truth is too real to you. And it’s painful. It’s raw to the touch, so you’d rather run because maybe now you can escape.
You want to break something, right?
I get it. I like breaking things too.
(If I’m being honest)
You hear the sound of something breaking through glass and it hits the center of your gravity; it fuels you, it speaks for you and say everything you could never say. It screams out about all that you’d love for everyone to hear. This is why we act out.
Then someone sits you down. They tell you that you’re going the wrong way. They tell you that you’re going to hurt yourself. They say you “Have so much potential,” right?
They tell you that you’re going to find yourself in trouble, —and intellectually, you know they’re right but emotionally, there’s a piece of you that does not care because emotionally, there’s a piece of you that needs a voice. There’s a piece of you that needs to scream. There is a piece of you, looking to find where you belong.
And, there’s a piece of you, just trying to protect itself because there’s too many aspects in which you are unsure of and the last thing you want is for anyone to see you as vulnerable or weak.
They used to ask me, “Why did you do that?”
And this could about anything.
You cut class again? You were caught stealing again? You got into another fight? You got high again? You’re in trouble again? You cut yourself again?
The cops got you again?
There were times when I had a totally clean slate, and yet, somehow, I still managed to get it dirty again.
There were times when I knew that I would be caught. I knew there was no way I could beat the system, but yet, I did the same things and banged my head up against the same wall until I was bleeding, and still, they asked me “Why?” and of course, I said, “I don’t know!”
I don’t believe I really expected different results. I thought life was just more of the same. I thought this was part of the pain. Life was a game and I was a game piece. What goes around comes around, and this was my place, at the underbelly of the cycle as a lowlife. I believed this was me with all of my hear. But guess what?
This was all a lie!
The truth is I didn’t know why I couldn’t do anything different. I didn’t know why I couldn’t walk away from certain people, places, and things. I was addicted to the crowd. I was addicted to the attention. I was addicted to the idea that who I would be if this wasn’t me anymore. Meanwhile, I wanted good things. I wanted to be a good boy. I wanted people to like me. it just wasn’t that simple for me.
And who wants to stay home? Who wants to stay home or miss something? It was like “God forbid,” to me.
Who wants to be that kid that no one knows and no one invites to parties?
God forbid I wasn’t around —something happened and I missed it.
The next day, everyone talked about what happened, and me, I’d be there, left out and feeling like I missed out —or more accurately, i’d believe that this somehow made me less important to the crowd and easily forgettable.
I remember an afternoon during my teenage angst. I took a walk because for the moment, I was brave enough to walk away from the crowd.
Besides, I was pissed at them; the crowd, I mean or namely, my friends. And they were pissed at me too. I had half the town looking to kick the shit out of me because of something I did to God knows who for God knows what —For the moment, I was brave enough to not call or try to invite myself and endure the same bullshit.
I was brave enough to be alone. I took a walk in the fields near my home. I lit up a smoke, because of course; this is what cool kids do. And I had to be cool. I needed to be cool. I couldn’t be anything less because anything less than cool would be only average, which is what I was afraid to be—I was afraid to be average, or even less than. Everything about me bled status, which meant I was no less of a status whore than anyone else. I was social climber with poor social skills.
I took a walk and lit up my smoke. I held my cigarette and wired music to my ears because music seemed to say what I could never speak.
I thought about what it would be like to run away or live somewhere else. I wondered who I would have been if I had, like say, grew up just one town over —or maybe even if I lived one house over, what would be different about me?
I used to think about blowing it all up. Everything! My town, the stupid rules I had to follow, the schools, the teachers, the therapists that had no idea what it was like to be me, the counselors that didn’t really understand (but just pretended to,) and the bullies I couldn’t beat up, the girls that never liked me back, the friends I never really had and the friends I always wanted —I wanted to burn it all down and go out in a blaze of glory.
I had a vision of me being carried away in handcuffs, which almost made me bigger and stronger. And the vision I had was my way pf punishing the world.
I’d have this fantasy of me getting even with everyone —including my parents, even though I loved them, even though I cared and deep down, intellectually, I knew they cared too, but still —to hell with them!
To hell with it all because nobody understood, nobody knew, nobody could feel my pain or my frustration, and nobody in the world could help me to make this all stop. And with all my heart; i can say this in full disclosure; that’s all I wanted. I just wanted to make it all stop.
None of this was rational. Nothing was logical. But then again, nothing is logical when you have so much to say but yet, you lack the voice to say it. But we can act out, right?
That’s for sure.
I literally hurt myself. I robbed myself of all the good things a kid is supposed to have. I traded this for a severely different life, —and while some of the kids I knew since grade school were talking about things like college placement tests, or thinking about their new dorm room they would have in the upcoming fall; I found myself alone as ever, sick, sitting in a jail, living in a rehab facility, weeping about my life, or wishing I could have been different or grown up in a different place.
In the depths of my anger and angst, I acted out and began to forfeit my freedom of choice until, eventually, I had no choice other than to be what I created, which was miserable, which was sad, beaten, deflated, and all the while, all I ever wished was that I could be normal and just fit in.
I see you. I know you.
This is not who you are.
I know you.
You are amazing. You have talents and dreams, —so please, I’m just asking you to not give them away.
But I get it.
You’re a powder keg that’s ready to blow.
You just need something to come along and break the tension.
You just need to find a way to feel better. You need a voice. You need an outlet. You need something to alleviate the pressure so that at last you can breathe out and say, “Ah!”
I have heard parents tell their kids, “You’re too young to understand!” and they might be right, but , the idea in the kid’s mind is, “You’re just too old to get it!’
The hardest part about working with kids to better themselves is they think they know everything.
This is true.
But for the record, do you know why it’s hard to work with adults?
It’s because they think they know everything too.
Somewhere, somehow, we need to create a conversation where we don’t know every-goddamned-thing. We don’t even have to understand everything either.
Instead, we need to create a conversation without changing the parental or familial roles and create an open line of communication.
We need to keep looking for the angle; we need to be vigilant with our reassurance, and we need to disassemble the attitude and disarm the argument. Otherwise, we all face the consequences.
I needed help for a very long time. I just never had the courage or the confidence or the language to be able to ask for it.
I was too lost in my own confusion. I needed help unraveling the ideas in my head and help to change the internal narratives, which impressed upon my thinking.
Someone asked me what self-harm is.
It is deliberately harming one’s own life in any way, shape or form. This goes beyond just cutting. This is a voice that otherwise comes without a language.
We need to break through the pain and create understanding. I agree this might be frightful for all involved but at least this can create a new language. This way people can learn how to ask for help.
In my case, thankfully, I had no choice and I was removed from my surroundings. Otherwise, I’d be dead too, or in prison, or shoved in a bottle somewhere, or nodding out on 35th street, waiting for the clinic to open.
Look, I’m not saying I know it all. I’m not saying I’m the guy you need to talk to. I’m just saying this is not something I want for you.
And like I said, I know you.
In my opinion, I think you’re worth more and I’d just like to see you do better.