This post is beyond overdue, but I have to share this day with you all. Last week I had the incredible opportunity to experience a day called “Challenge Day.” It involved 100 people: a mix of students and teachers at my school, and activities that brought out every emotion. The overall goal was to prove that everyone is going through something and so we should not be too quick to judge. I can tell you that it achieved that and so much more. So, let me explain why this day was so incredible.
It started out extremely awkward. The leaders of the day were trying to pump everyone up and get them excited, which is very hard to do with an apathetic group of 80 high school students. We were paired up with multiple different people and told to express certain parts of our life in order to wean us to a more comfortable mood. From there, everything exploded into a whirlwind of emotions.
The leaders started by sharing their stories; what made them who they are today. They shared the negative things in their life with all of us, showing that no matter what you go through, you can come out strong. They showed us that sharing your story is a sign of courage, not weakness. So after that, we all had a chance to share our stories.
That’s really where the tears started.
As we went around in small groups and shared our stories of how we became who we are today, it was obvious that people were beginning to become more comfortable with each other. People stopped judging their peers on how they looked or how they talked for a little bit. Everyone, for once, just listened. It was heartbreaking to hear how much people have gone through, but it was also refreshing to be able to share what has happened to you.
I had never seen a group of people connect like we all did that day. As I cried, girls and guys I had never seen before were putting their arms around me telling me that it was going to be okay, and I did the same for them. Teachers were beginning to understand how hard some students have it, and students were learning that some teachers have it just as bad.
We gradually began to understand each other and accept that although we are all different, there is no reason why we cannot help each other. I heard stories that made me want to go and take on the world and I heard some that made me want to fall to the ground and sob. I wanted to help each and every person in that room, and I wanted to help myself as well.
This day was so inspiring to me and made me a little bit more aware of who I am walking next to in the hallways. It led me to take on this piece of advice: no matter what he or she looks like or how he or she previously acted, if they are hurting, you are capable of helping them.
I took this advice to heart. I have seen one to many friends harm themselves or end their lives because they felt as though no one was there for them. I realized that I have all the capability in the world to help those people around me and to make them feel as though they are not alone. Even if no other person on this earth wants to even look at them, I am able to make sure they know that I will be there. That’s what “Challenge Day” did for me – it put me up to the challenge to help all those that are hurting. So that is exactly what I plan to do, and that is what I hope others will do for me.