Grow A Backbone!

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Kallie Brown, Artist

Many people don’t know how to cope with issues anymore. Coping with loss—whether it be a family member or *ahem* an election—failure, pain, discomfort, or anything disappointing has become a near-impossible task.

It has become a lost talent; I myself had to go into actual therapy to learn the skills that no one bothered to teach me. Until a year ago, I didn’t know what to do whenever something went wrong. If I bombed a test, or was at a loss for how to deal with friendship issues, the only thing I could think to do was lash out. Now I know better, and now I can also see that many people around me have the same problem.

Is it the fault of our generation, or the world we grew up in? People have become so concerned with making everyone happy that we have forgotten what to do when it doesn’t work. We feel the need to always be right, and always have our way, when that’s not how the world works.

We grew up in a world where everything was laid out for us, and all we had to do was follow along—for the most part. We were sheltered from the storms and hidden from trials when we were little, to the point where we don’t know what to do when the shelters fall. We’re thrown out into the torrent, with nothing but the knowledge that we cannot lose because we don’t know how.

For example, the “Not My President” campaign’s flames have been taking over teenage passion. While people are using their right to protest, they have crossed the line from peaceful to destructive. In Seattle, a Trump supporter’s garden was set on fire; in Oakland, teens vandalized and destroyed five separate businesses; one woman was even hit by a car on a California highway when teens tried to shut down the road.

We came up with this delusion that our right to “free speech” and “peaceful protest” meant that we could do whatever we want—violent or otherwise— and have exactly zero repercussions. That is not the reality we live in. We need to learn how to cope with defeat. We need to know what to do when life doesn’t go our way. It’s not always going to be peaches and cream, as we’ve already began to learn.

But what can we do about it?

Know that coping skills are out there. I myself might have had to get them from professional help, but I learned them. Some of them might sound tacky (deep breathing? No thanks) and others might appear incredibly tedious, but over time, they really do help.

Optimism is one that people don’t always think of; cynical views give you little breathing room, and forces everything to appear as “doom and gloom” if it goes wrong. Optimism gives a little boost, and helps you to look for the little glimpses of light. Once you take the time to look for the good in the outcome, suddenly the future doesn’t seem quite so dismal. If you bomb a test, you can see that your study methods might not be as effective as they should be, for example.

Sometimes, all it takes is to separate yourself from the issue. Emotions can blow up, especially when tied to important problems that one relates to, throwing everything out of proportion. Take a step back, let your emotions go, and then look at the issue again.

Just know this: it’s not the end of the world. You can deal with it.