Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Monday Mantra (on a Tuesday because...): Funerals and Friends and a PSA

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: When the rain starts to pour, like I've been there before, 'cause you're there for me too
Part 1
This weekend was a mixture of sad and happy, new and old, laughter and tears. It was a reminder that real friendships - no matter how long it's been since you've seen each other - last the test of time. It was a reminder that hugs are indeed the best medicine. 

This weekend was a reunion brought together due to a tragedy. It was all of us old ag/FFA kids, including our most favorite teacher and teachers assistant, who were significant in our growing up to be good people. It was a chorus of "I'm so happy to see you...I wish it was under better circumstances." 

I knew I missed them, but I didn't realize how much until I saw them, until I hugged them, until I realized how much time had really passed. And yet, it was almost like it hadn't. We were still the giant, noisy, unstoppable group we always were in high school. I'm honored, sincerely, to have been a part of that remarkable group of people. Most high school kids search and search for their place and I kind of stumbled into mine. And they welcomed me in with arms wide open- me and my Buffy the Vampire Slayer obsession, my baggy jeans and giant t-shirts, my awkwardness. I flourished and became more comfortable in my own skin because of them. 

I love all of you dearly. I'm sorry so much time passed. I'm sorry it took a funeral to bring us together. Let's go camping in Sara's backyard and let's meet up at my house for BBQ's and let's not let distance get between us. I'm serious. Sara has three acres...there's plenty of room and no one will call the cops on us.

Part 2
The funeral made me think of Ben, my sweet friend who left this world way too soon. I scrolled through the Facebook page his mom set up for him and looked through all the old pictures. He was so young- we were so young. I have mostly come to terms with his passing, yet every now and then I come up with quite the elaborate story of time travel where I go back to this one particular night we hung out at the park and I proceed to hug him until he basically can't breathe. I tell him I love him and I'm sorry and then force him to spend every single hour of every single day with me from then on out so I can keep him from dying. Because I'm certain I could have. I'm certain I could have changed everything.

I love "our" story. How we met, our nicknames, how he taught me one of the most important lessons in life- never to judge someone by how they look, never to judge someone because they're different than you. You see, I judged Ben. I was an idiot and I made a snap judgment because he looked different than anyone I'd ever met at that point in my life. I wasn't mean about it and I wasn't purposely trying to judge him, but I dubbed him as a scary guy because he dressed and looked a certain way that, well, scared me a little bit for no real reason. But Ben, with his infinite wisdom, kindness, and courage came and found me the next day at work. He walked up to me, said "Hello, Scary Girl" and smiled. We became friends immediately. 

My Ben, my Scary Guy, in all black and chains and smiles and kindness. We're tied together forever because of the shirt I bought him, the words on it, the words now on his grave - Remember Me. I do, Ben. I do. 

I still wish there was time travel. I will always wish there was time travel. I will always want to go back.

Part 3
I recently discovered this singer (who is apparently already famous and does not need my help telling everyone about him because it turns out I'm the only one who's never heard of him...story of everything in my life, I swear) Andy Biersack. He reminds me of Ben in so many ways. The way he looks, dresses. The way people judge him. Everything he stands for and against because of that judgment. He clearly does not need my help because he has a killer voice and quite the fandom, but all of you should still go check him out. Because he's one of the good guys. He's one of the Ben's in the world and trust me, we all need more people like that. 

Also...Andy, if you're reading this, let's be friends. 

Part 4
I had a good high school experience, but not everyone does. Not my other friend, who was judged because she looked different and acted different and was different, as she should have been- as we all should be because we all are different from each other. She was not welcomed with open arms by everyone she encountered. I didn't know this still bothered her until the other day, fifteen years after the fact. High school can be a happy place, but high school can also be hell. 

We made life better for each other. With our crazy stories and always laughing and having more fun than should be allowed. Maybe not everyone loved her, but I sure did. I sure do. Everyone should have. 

Part 5
Not that long ago a co-worker of mine told me I was an odd combination of a person. That's an exact quote. Apparently, I don't look like the type of girl who loves rap music, tattoos, and must absolutely always drive an SUV with rims. 

I find this so strange. How shocked someone can be then they find out someone else is capable of being, liking, enjoying so many different things. I always thought everyone was made up of layers like this. Where one day you might want to dress like a hippie and the next you might want to dress like Morticia Addams. Isn't that what being a diverse person is all about? Isn't that what makes life so fun and interesting? I think so.

I never thought about this back then, but now I realize this is why I had friends in all the various circles of high school life; because I never felt like I belonged in one place or fit in in just one way. I had "goth" friends, nerdy friends, weird friends, "cool" friends. I had friends that were considered to be part of the bad crowd, friends from the good crowd. Not that I am trying to say these people were these things, or were just these things, but because cliques are divided and summed up like this in school. 

Thank the heavens I had all these friends with all these different backgrounds! It made me a better, more well rounded person. Each and every individual brought something different to the table. I learned more from them than I probably did from high school itself. 

I assure you, if you are willing to accept people for who they are, not only will they flourish because of that, you will too. If you don't accept them, I can also assure you that you're missing out on what could be some of the most influential, important friendships of your life. Literally, life changing friendships. 

Kindness, you guys. Acceptance. It's really that easy. It's really that awesome.

Part 6
To anyone who reads this: If you ever happen to be in the same place as me (and you happen to spot me) and you're feeling alone or scared or judged by everyone else around you, come talk to me. I mean it. Introduce yourself. I will be your friend. 

Here I am, pretending I know how to paint. I don't.
(Just so you know what I look like. Minus the paintbrush. Probably.)
"What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?" - Jean-Jacques Rousseau


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