Think of the caterpillar, and choose your confidante carefully

We all need to find somebody in our life who truly cares and who we can trust

‘A problem shared is a problem halved – but only when you share it with somebody who actually cares and not somebody who loves gossip.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

‘A problem shared is a problem halved – but only when you share it with somebody who actually cares and not somebody who loves gossip.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 01:00

Remember, when you’re struggling with something, to look at the people around you. They are often struggling too, and for them it’s just as hard as it is for you. No matter what you are struggling with in your life, the one thing I recommend is not to struggle alone.

I heard as far back as Junior Infants that “a problem shared is a problem halved”, but as I grew up I changed that saying to suit myself.

For me now it’s “a problem shared is a problem halved – but only when you share it with somebody who actually cares and not somebody who loves gossip”.

We all need to find somebody in our life who cares, whether it is a school guidance teacher, an older friend, a family member, a coach or just someone we know and trust. When you’re choosing who to confide in, remember the first time you tell somebody is always the hardest, so find someone who will appreciate what you want to share.

Struggling quietly

Throughout my life I have witnessed negative things such as people being bullied. Here, I’m going to recommend things to do when struggling quietly; things I have seen that work, and things you’re probably sick of hearing but that do actually help.

Let’s say you’re finding school hard to deal with, your grades are low or you can’t get along with a teacher. This isn’t the end of the world. Look at Einstein’s story: during his school days he had many problems as he simply found it too hard to learn. It was Einstein who said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

It is such a true statement.

If you think about it, you’ll see that if you just do the best you can, someday you too could be successful. As for not getting along with a teacher, everybody has those teachers who are hard to get along with.

There is probably a simple reason you don’t get along but if you were to go up to that teacher after class and tell them how hard you’re finding their class, and that you would like a bit of help, you could soon see that they begin to be more supportive of you as a student.

If school isn’t your problem, maybe it could be that you’re finding it hard to make friends, but just think of it this way. When you were born, the only people you had were your family; then you began to play with other children and they are now your friends. It’s not so different now that you’re in school; everybody started off with nobody and had to make the effort to find friends.

Look around for people just like you, people who have the same hobbies as you or people who just happen to be friends with everybody else.

Start sitting with them during class or try joining in with what they are doing at break time. If they are people who just sit down at breaks and do nothing, then go over and sit down and start a conversation that you know you both have an interest in, then stay for that break and have a laugh; you’re now one step closer.

Struggling with sexuality

Maybe you’re struggling with your sexuality. You may be experiencing new feelings, but remember this is normal. No matter what your sexuality is, being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something you’re not is a great accomplishment.

Talk to somebody who you know has gone through a similar situation. They know how hard it can be and the confusion that may surround you. They can help you, try building trust and confiding in them.

And remember, just like a shoe, if someone is meant for you, they will fit just perfectly. If you’re worried about coming out, or about how your family and friends may react, don’t worry. They might seem weird at first but that just means they need time to adjust. Under all that confusion, they are proud of you regardless of your sexual orientation; just give them time to adjust to the new reality.

No matter what you are struggling with, remember just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending he became a butterfly. Stay strong, there are better times ahead.

Lauren Moran is 18 and lives in Co Offaly. She is a youth adviser with Jigsaw Offaly and Headstrong, the national centre for youth mental health, a charitable organisation. See headstrong.ie, tel. 01-4727010

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