When I was fourteen, I tried to end my life. Back then, I wasn't really sure how to do it. It was the late 80s. We didn't have the internet. I had moved to a new school and felt like I'd never fit in. A boy on my bus spread a terrible rumor about me and a plunger.
That day, I walked into the "cool bathroom" at my high school, and the group of A-Listers (whose approval I so desperately sought) greeted me with a chorus of "hey, plunger." I smiled, trying to pretend it didn't bother me, but it did. I didn't think I could ever recover.
I went home and searched through the medicine cabinet. The only thing we had was Tylenol. The label warned not to take more than eight in a day. I took eleven (which probably would've only damaged my liver). But, as the pills dissolved in my stomach, I got scared. I changed my mind. I didn't want to die. I was lucky it was only Tylenol.
Panicking, I told my mom. After a call to poison control and way too much vomiting, I survived.
Today, I attended a funeral for a talented, radiant, fifteen year old who took her own life. I've known four people lost to suicide, but SooMin was the youngest. All week, I've felt absolute heartbreak for her parents (who were my coworkers for many years) and her family, friends, and teachers who are trying to understand this loss.
Here's the truth for those desperately craving something that seems impossible: be it to fit in with a clique, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a different body, a different family, or better grades. To those who are bullied, or rejected.
You are the special ones. You belong to the tribe who is changing the world with art and innovation.
The people who suffer become the brightest minds, the creative forces, the problem solvers. Our teenage years can feel like an emotional prison, but they're really a powerful boot camp, shaping us into magical people. We simply endure the pain of transformation earlier in life (and it really freaking hurts sometimes).
As adults, we find our tribes and flourish. We connect with people who genuinely love us because of our quirks and unique perspectives. And, by the time we attend our twentieth reunion, those "A-Listers" act like we were always in the "cool" bathroom with them because we're the ones doing the most interesting and amazing things.
And bad grades? An 'F' isn't the end of your story, trust me. You're probably reading this post on a device that was created by a college drop out. Failure can only ruin your life if you let it. It's possible to get a doctorate in Physics even if you fail Algebra.
For anyone who believes the world would be better off without them, reach out to someone you trust, or contact the Suicide Prevention Life Line. If you think a friend may need help, tell someone.
In the meantime, whenever you feel disconnected, alone, awkward, or unlovable, know that your tribe is here and we're waiting for you to find us.