High school was the worst time of my life. Kids tormented me relentlessly for being an outsider. I would have been mortified to admit how badly I was bullied back then. I was too embarrassed to speak up and too afraid to take a stand when I saw other kids being bullied. Real life was something that I thought didn’t start until after high school. I couldn’t wait to move away after graduation and never look back.
What I didn’t realize back then is this: Real life is happening right now. And you have the power to create the life you want. You don’t have to wait until later for things to get better. You can make your life better right now. By visualizing your goals and taking steps every day towards achieving them, you can turn your dreams into reality.
If you’re going through hard times or know someone who is, I want you to have the confidence I didn’t. Surviving hard times builds strength. You can use that strength to improve your life and help make other people’s lives better. Reach out to someone who needs help. Stand up for yourself if you’re being mistreated in any way. Your choices shape your life. By making choices that help improve your life and the lives of others, you can turn negative experiences into positive ones.
What helped me survive high school was the hope that one day I would be living a happy life. On the worst days when I just wanted to hide in my room and never come out, I visualized my future life. Hope gave me the strength I needed to keep holding on. I knew that if I never gave up, I could turn my dreams into reality, which is exactly what I’ve done and continue to do every single day.
You have a shiny new year in front of you. Instead of seeing it as another year to survive, why not turn it into an opportunity to be the best version of yourself? You have the power to make this the best year ever. Let’s see how brightly you can shine.
Author Susane Colasanti’s most personal book yet is Keep Holding On. She poured her bullying experience into this novel in order to help teens feel like they’re not alone, and to encourage all high school students to have the courage to speak up.