Anthony Carter

Strong Stuff

Filed By Anthony Carter | February 10, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay youth, strong stuff, suicide prevention

When I was ten, Tanya Nelson repeatedly tortured me by jabbing me with a compass. She sat behind me and constantly tormented me along with others for being a sissy. Strong as a BullI took the abuse. I learned to tolerate it and even enjoyed figuring out ways to endure the humiliation.

I decided that she, like my family of origin and everyone else who did so much harm to a young, precocious child was not going break me. I decided that I would win. My mother refused to take my pleas seriously and I never talked to my dad about anything.

I share this story because it all came flooding back to me today when I started having some modicum of gaining employment after eighteen months of unemployment.

Lately, I have had to really look at all that I endured and survived on my way to full adulthood. I would love to have spoken with any of those young people who took their own lives and said "Why do you think this is the only option?"

If you really wanna screw with 'em, tell 'em to fuck off and truly develop your gifts and become madly successful. I would have reminded them the things that people are so bloody worked up about make them unique. I would have shared my story and said, I made it. Let me show you how to make it. I would have also pointed out that if they've gotten to the teen years and got through them they can absolutely do anything.

I would share my new favorite quote. In the absolutely adorable, heart warming, humanistic series, The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, the heroine, Precious, states "Like my father, I am made of strong stuff."

This is what we must remind our children of. They have all of this incredible stuff inside. The ooey gooey center that everyone hates and yet so desperately needs is what's required to conquer the world and ourselves. The strong stuff that Precious speaks of is in any and all of us who have had to survive and hatch failsafe plans that would ensure we live to fight another day.

The fight is an internal one.

We old folk have no business leading the next generation into battle then walking away. There is a need for assurance and support until there isn't. It is difficult to keep our greatness at the forefront of our program when so much around us tells us who we are and should be.

Like fussy, spoiled children we must stomp and rage to get what we want and not settle. We must remind ourselves of our own inherent goodness. We must remind ourselves of our greatness even when it feels forced or fake and there is no one to concur with. It is our job to develop the core of our youth to such an extent that it doesn't matter who is around or where we are, we know who we are and what we have to offer our communities and the world.

Forgetting that our greatness lies in our humanity and abilities to connect is a very systematic and seductive proposition. To go unfazed and distraction free, we must remember our "strong stuff."

(Picture via irene nobrega's Flickr feed)


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Nice post Anthony. Best wishes on the employment front.

I like to use the analogy of tempering. Heated steel is plunged into cold water and when done repeatedly hardens greatly to the point of being almost indestructible. Life is like that but always remember that it takes skill to temper steel without shattering the sword.

When a person reaches that point where any situation encountered can be handled gracefully without rancor or effect on self esteem it shines through in every thing they do.

Anthony, I second Deena's wishes for your career.

I love this post. This is the type of "It Gets Better" pep talk we need, instead of celebrities mouthing BS to fine-tune their public images and sell more records or movie tickets.

And Deena, I love your last paragraph:

When a person reaches that point where any situation encountered can be handled gracefully, without rancor or effect on self-esteem, it shines through in every thing they do.

We want out children to reach that level of inner confidence and strength by the time they leave home and go out into the world. But unfortunately, even many adults don't achieve it. I'm in my mid-50's and I'm still working to achieve it. But we all have a duty to achieve it, and until we do we are not fully a human adult.

Thanks, Anthony, for the post. And thanks, Deena, for the comment.