Monday, November 26, 2012

My Thoughts On Bullying

Here's the guest post I made on Team Nerd/Nerd Alien Review's "Kind Words, Love Acts Anti-bullying Campaign." I was given three options about how to address anti-bulling, and I thought it'd be cool going back in time and having a conversation with my younger self. Careful, though. I had A LOT of stuff to say since bullying's a subject that hits close to home. In the meantime, be sure to check out Team Nerd's blog for other cool events and reviews!

Best Rewards of Life Come From the Most Difficult of Places
(Letter to Younger Self)

By: Author Raphyel M. Jordan

Hey, kid. Guess what? You're going to be an author. I know, I know. Animation is what you've had on your mind ever since Kindergarten, but don't worry. It won't be that bad. You still get to bring your characters to life and share it with others, so that's cool. You're even going to grow your hair out and lock it up. Yeah, trippy, right? Believe it or not, locks are gonna be the new thing in a couple of more years. That's not the important thing though. I know you got a lot more on your mind right now.

Yeah, getting out of bed to get on the bus is a struggle, isn't it? The kids harassing you just because you're too nice and passive to do anything about it is hard. Being called fat and made fun of because you choose to speak with an intelligent dialect when society says "you people" can only speak improper English breaks your heart. Finding a place to sit in the cafeteria is embarrassing because you keep getting shunned off by people too cool for you. Well, I got news to tell ya, kiddo: It'll get worse.

Yep. Sorry for the downer. Your freshman year of high school is gonna be a self-defining moment for you after a guy tries to smack you with his. . . uh, "yeaaaaaah," in the football locker room. You're going to see strangers pointing fingers and giggling at you while you walk down the hallway. Get ready for Summer School since all of the stress caused your math grades to drop, and yeah, you're going to hate yourself for all of this, even when none of it's your fault. But you won't let anyone else know how you're just a physical form of agony sitting in the classroom, smiling at everyone, even your friends and family.

Life is going to be hard for you, and it's only going to get harder. How do I know all of this? Well, I'm you, genius. . . Hey. Close your mouth. I know it's crazy having yourself from the future talk to you, but believe me, your imagination is going to even think of wilder things.
You gotta look beyond all of this, kiddo. Remember how I said you're going to be an author? Well, all of this stuff is going to matter because of it. Still, I guess it wouldn't hurt giving you a heads up on the inevitable. You'll know the agony of having a girl break your heart, your dream of becoming an animator snatched away in the blink of an eye because the school you got accepted to was too expensive. Oh yeah, that's right. You DO go to college, and become the first person in your immediate family to get a degree. But enough about that. You'll have to do some insane stuff to get there.

You're going to get up before sunrise to go work at a warehouse, only to drive back to school for the rest of the day. While your friends are out having a good time. . . yeahhhhhhh, another crazy thing. You're going to go out and socialize! Why? Because some people will eventually grow up and see you for what really matters, but who cares? See, it's the craziest thing, actually. Remember how grownups were always yammering about how you can be everything you want? Oddly enough, when you get in your college years, some of them will suddenly start telling you you're too young to know anything about struggling and too young to do this or that. Crazy, right? Actually, I think that's what finally set you off to write your book. I think you just got fed up with people identifying you or something, and who knows you better than you?! Of all the nerve. So, you'll need to vent a little and get it off your chest, and I guess writing a sci-fi novel was the most SOUND idea. Yeah, that's sarcasm.

Like I was saying, in the meanwhile, while you're working out this story, you'll be stuck at home, staying up to the early morning because you also got bills to pay and assignments to finish. You'll also be in school a lot longer than you hoped because if anything could go wrong with financial aid will go wrong. Yep. You're still going to work yourself exhausted though. I mean, one evening, when you switch to night shift, your boss is going knock on your driver door to wake you up because you passed out, and you need to clock in. Still, you won't ask to go home because you're tired. "No rest for the weary. Only rest for the weak." Besides, you got bills to pay. And even though graduating from school seems so far away, you'll still keep at it. Why? Because not graduating isn't an option for you.

And when you finally manage to get out of school, that book you were working on will become your top priority. You'll get it self-published and all that jazz, but that doesn't pan out too well at the beginning since you didn't do your research about marketing a book. So, instead, you'll have to go all the way to a writing seminar in Las Vegas just to. . . Oh yeah, that's right. Las Vegas. So what? See, you'll get encouraged to go by a New York Times Bestselling author you met. His name is Kevin J. Anderson, and he pretty much becomes your mentor and. . . STOP INTERUPTING ME! Do I have to keep repeating myself? Yes, you actually know a NYT author when you grow up, but it comes at a price.

You're going to be networking with other authors, artists, and bloggers, day in and day out. You'll have to make groups and clubs on the internet and maintain them because over 100 people will follow you on them. You'll need to update a website showing off your artwork, and take time to answer interview questions from people on the other side of the world just because they heard about your book called "Prossia." Don't ask me what "Prossia" means. You'll find out.

What I can say is that it's a story about an alien girl who was the odd one growing up, but got thick skin because of it, kinda like you. She'll mirror how you got so much confidence in yourself, how you will stand up for others when other people are too scared to do the same. You'll explain how the faith and values you desperately held on to at this age will shape you into the man standing before you today. Your family will read it, and even your friends and coworkers. But that's the easy part. You'll learn the biggest reward comes when an unbiased stranger says they love your story. Hey, you'll even be talking to a classroom of kids about writing, and they'll be more interested in your book than anything else.

Do I sell a lot of copies? Well, I dunno. Like I said, I made some marketing mistakes when I first published it, but I think I might be on the right track now . .  . oh, sorry. I will be on the right track.  See, you know how stubborn you are now? That becomes a permanent trait of yours. So, for some crazy reason, you won't be able to give up on anything you try to tackle. You won't quit football your freshmen year of high school. You won't quit college, even when you have to go to work as well. You won't give up on your book, because you know it'll help other kids that are in your shoes.

See what I mean? Your concerns don't even matter when you grow up because you'll get the bizarre idea that those silly little "ordeals" you had to go through might help countless others. So, it'll be hard, but you'll keep staying up late at night, writing, drawing, emailing whenever you need to. You might even get up extra early in the morning a couple of times when you have too much on your schedule for a 10 hour work day to handle. Yeah, you become a workaholic of what you love to do, and when you think it's too much, you'll remind yourself that maybe there's some child out there right now who needs to know that things have the potential to change as long as he or she learns the value of self-worth. So, no. Life doesn't get easier. It just gets so much more rewarding. 

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