It Gets Better

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The teen years can be tough, but it gets better.

Yesterday I ran the We’re All Human 5K Color Run.

It was my first color run. For those who are unfamiliar with it, a color run is a race in which the runners/walkers get sprayed with color during the course.

So you end up with a colorful t-shirt, body, and hair plus some color dust in your eyes and mouth.

As a runner, I’ve actually been able to avoid color runs up until this point. They seemed silly to me.

But when this race came up on my radar, I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

The race was sponsored by The Ryan Bartel Foundation, a charity that checks off three of my boxes: it’s local, it involves children, and it involves mental health.

Ryan Bartel was a high-schooler in my town who committed suicide three years ago.

A teen.

A kid.

Someone’s son.

Since his death, Ryan’s mom Suzie Bartel started a foundation in honor of her son. Through it, she has worked tirelessly to put programs in place to combat teen suicide.

The foundation’s mission: “To prevent youth suicide through awareness, educational programs and activities that empower youth to help themself and each other by spreading hope, help and strength.” 

It was an honor to hear Suzie speak at the start of the race and her message was powerful.

She imparted on the crowd a simple request…to not judge your kids.

Accept them; don’t judge.

Because there are added pressures on kids that we just didn’t have when we were growing up.

These are the pressures that technology, smart phones, and social media have contributed to our youth culture.

Think about how easy it is to type out a rude or snarky comment from behind your computer. 

You can be anonymous and not worry about a consequence.

That is exactly why there has been a rise in bullying (with kids AND adults) in recent years…because bullies are actually weak and cowardly.

So now that they have the option to do their bullying while hiding out at home, it becomes that much more prevalent.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this aspect of the Internet is going to go away anytime soon, so what can we do?

I think it comes down to teaching our kids better coping mechanisms. If they can learn to deal with criticism, and deal with things that don’t go their way, they will be equipped to overcome struggles during their teen years.

If you don’t have the right mindset and coping skills, struggles can seem insurmountable.

And who among us didn’t have struggles during those precarious years of our youth?

I know I did!

I had glasses, no boobs, and acne during high school. 

(Actually, all of that is still pretty much true…ha!)

At the time, however, I felt really down on myself. I was lucky to have had an amazing group of friends who made my days bearable, most of whom I still count as close friends today.

If you can make it past middle school and high school, I think the most important thing I learned is that it gets better.

That is what I want today’s youth to realize. 

It really does get better.

What happens in your teen years might seem crappy at the time, but you can turn it around. 

My team’s name for the color run was “You BELONG Here.”

Because no matter how bad things seem, please don’t ever forget that you are important, you matter to someone, and you belong here on this earth.

And sidenote– color runs are shockingly fun. If you have the chance to do one and support a local charity, go for it!

**If you are a teen and you are struggling, tell someone. Tell your friend, tell your parent, tell a guidance counselor, or tell a trusted adult. We can help.**

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