Teenagers need to know they can talk to someone who cares, especially as they cope with tragedy.
| 3:46 p.m. January 26, 2016
Palm Coast Observer
By Jaci Centofanti
There are so many things that I feel like I need to say to the teenage girls in this town who are just wrecked over losing two of their peers to the recent back-to-back suicides.
I’ll start with this:
Life gets better. I know that sounds like something that your mom would say, but we both know you won’t listen to her because she’s too old and she doesn’t know anything. Well, I’m only 29, so you can trust me. My nanny swears I’m not old, and she’s one of you girls. But really, life goes on and it gets better, if you’ll let it. I promise. Life changes so much over the course of five years, 10 years. It changes in a moment.
Life also hurts. I’m not trying to sugarcoat it. Life hurts. Fighting with your parents. Friends talking behind your back. Quitting the team. Breaking up with the love of your life. All of it hurts. But it doesn’t hurt for long. You are strong enough to get past it. And if you allow yourself to be even stronger, you can grow from it.
Stop trusting everything you see on social media. The pictures are fake. There’s an app that made her make-up that perfect at 11 p.m. No one’s stomach gets that flat after a 10-day cleanse. Your ex isn’t as happy as he says on his Instagram photo with his new girlfriend.
Put your phone down, shake your head, and walk away. Say “No way, Jose,” out loud. There are better things to see in real life.
You matter. OMG. You matter. You matter to so many people that you aren’t even thinking of when you’re making your list of people who might show up at your funeral. You have friends. You have a family. You have teachers and administrators. You have classmates. You have teammates. You have bandmates. Regardless of what you’re going through, think of all the people who would be devastated if you walked away from this world.
You matter. Your mom wants to see you graduate college. Your dad wants to give you away at your wedding. Your younger sister is watching your every move, day after day. Your friends can’t wait to come over this weekend. Your classmate hopes you’ll sit next to her at lunch. Your teammates know they can count on you for the assist. Your bandmate wants to tell you about his new crush. We’re all being selfish, but who cares? We don’t want you to leave. We can’t imagine life without you.
And most importantly: talk to someone. Please consider this. Find ANYONE. If you hate your mom today (you won’t in five years), go to your friend’s mom. Talk to an older sibling, a cousin. The counselors at your school are there for no other purpose than to listen to you talk, and most of them are very nice. They went to school and studied how to deal with grief and pain and emotions. If that seems intimidating, ask them to hook you up with a mentor.
Or call me. No, seriously. Call me. My cell phone is 386-503-8533 and my email is listed on page 6 of the Observer every week. I’ve got girlfriends who, like me, were recently 19. We’ll be real with you, I swear it.
Oh, and you’re beautiful. You are really, truly, so beautiful. One day you will realize that, and that’s the day that your life will change.
Jaci Centofanti, an alumna of Flagler Palm Coast High School, is an experienced mentor of young people with Girl Scouts of America and Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. She is currently the advertising manager at the Observer.