Monday, November 6, 2017

My "Note to Self"

In honor of CBS This Morning’s excellent “Note to Self” series, I’ve decided to write a letter to 12-year-old Jon Easter, a socially-awkward and bullied 7th grader.
Dear Jon,

You have no idea what you’ll miss if you go through with those thoughts in your head. The next 30-years are going to be filled with fun times, great discoveries and even some emotions you can’t even describe, but you will emerge as a strong-willed individual who loves life.

Right now, life doesn’t seem so simple, but it is. You have no idea what’s going to happen in the next few years. Spend more time with Mom and Dad and the family, even if they don’t have time. Drink up the advice and lessons you learn from them. You will need them later.

Related to that, realize now that your parents are wiser than you. Realize that you don’t know all the answers, even if you think you do. You’ll realize that later those lessons make sense.

Come to terms with those feelings inside. Everything is going to be fine, and the quicker you realize that you’re not broken and don’t need to be fixed the faster you’ll start to grow as a person. You are not crazy. You are gay, and it may still take you some time to understand that. One day, you’ll look yourself in the mirror, and you will admit it to yourself. It won’t be the end of the world, trust me.

As hard as it is, don’t be so hard on yourself.

Realize that those that treat you badly don’t really understand you, yet. Someday they will, or they don’t need to be in your life. That’s a brave decision at 12, but I know you. You’re very brave. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not.

Stand up for what you believe in, and stand up for what is right. It may sound cliché, but you will gain respect if you stick to your principles while still understanding that you don’t know nearly everything.

Take every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t be so afraid to try new things. Put down that Nintendo controller and get outside. Enjoy the world and let the world enjoy you.

You are going to be a teacher. It will be the joy of your life, and you’re going to be successful at making a difference in the students you teach. It will keep you motivated and young-hearted, and it will give you an outlet for your precociousness. It will also keep you coming back for more each day. Never give up on anyone you teach, no matter how much they may give up on you. Always be there to soften their landing.

Love is going to be hard for you. Don’t accept second-best. Don’t settle. Take comfort in the friends that my make and know that some of them will be your second family. Continue to lead with your heart and continue to be kind.

Speaking of family, you will lose people you love. When they are gone, they will stay with you forever. You’ll cry sometimes, but you’ll smile mostly. Be there for them when they need you.

I don’t know where we’re going from here. You can only control what you’re going to control, but I hope to be around to have 72-year-old Jon write a letter to 42-year-old Jon. Who knows what we’ll accomplish between now and then? I just know that I’m still in the opening act, and I’m still not ready for intermission.

With love and thanks,

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