stay weird

Confession: I loved Graham Moore’s Oscar speech.

For those of you who missed it or had something better to do than watch an awards show (gasp!), here’s the latter part of what he said:

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: yes you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

There’s been a surprising amount of backlash about his comments. Specifically, that he didn’t make his statement about sexual orientation, since his Oscar was for a movie about Alan Turing, a scientist who was gay. (See this article.)

I find the negativity terribly disappointing. How could you be upset at someone for not saying exactly what you would like them to say?

Graham Moore’s words were not less valid or less true simply because he wasn’t promoting a cause like most of the other celebrities. There are plenty of people who, like him, struggle with depression, feel like they don’t fit in, and wonder if they ever will. Are they somehow less important because they don’t represent a cause?

Of course not. And how dare anyone shame Moore for sharing his experience and offering hope. Must every statement be a social commentary or a call-to-action? Is Moore’s experience any less valid because he’s a straight, white male? I’m not saying Hollywood doesn’t have diversity issues. But why are we diminishing Moore’s words because his depression didn’t spring from a struggle with his sexual identity?

That’s like saying someone who grew up wealthy cannot possibly know what it is to feel neglected, or that someone who excelled academically could never feel like a failure. How can we possibly judge someone else’s experience? Depression is no respecter of class, race, sexual identity, or life experiences.

Within Hollywood, overdoses and suicide attempts are sadly common. But outside that world, there is still a major stigma attached to depression, so Moore’s choice to be honest and reveal something about himself was incredibly brave. On a night when celebrities were using their time to draw attention to causes (admirable, no doubt), Moore took the time to share a message of hope to whoever needed it instead of limiting it to a specific population.

Stay weird. Stay different. You belong.

Powerful words.

Thank you, Graham Moore. I plan to stay weird. I hope you do the same.

dear Bridget: trust them

Dear Bridget,

We have stairs in our house. (That seems like an odd thing to share, I’ll admit, but it’ll make more sense in a moment.) We’ve lived in this house for over two and a half years now, and I’ve gone up and down the stairs multiple times a day.

Suffice it to say, I’ve had a lot of experience with those stairs.

And yet, some days, as I’m running up the stairs, I have a moment – a strange moment when there’s a shadow or the light flickers and my brain goes “Where’s the next step?!”

The thing is, the next step is in exactly the same place as it’s always been. It didn’t move. My feet have pounded up and down those stairs thousands of times. My feet know those steps. It’s my eyes that have doubt issues.

My eyes catch a strange shadow and suddenly I question everything.

Shadows can make us do that, Bridget. We think we know what we want and where we’re going and suddenly, the light shifts, and we doubt our own feet.

You’re going to journey down a lot of paths, trails, stairs, and roads. Some will be familiar, some will be entirely new and strange. The light will shift and flicker and fade. You’ll have days when the sun is shining and you can see for miles. You’ll have days when the fog is so thick, you can’t even see your knees.

But don’t doubt your feet, Bridget. If you know the path you’re on was meant for you, don’t entangle your feet in needless worries or trip them up with overwhelming doubts. Even when you can’t see the next step, and shadows creep around you, trust your feet to carry you on.

You’ll get where you’re going, one trusting step at a time.

Love,

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What’s Dear Bridget all about? It’s a series on my blog composed of letters to a hypothetical teen girl named Bridget. Why Bridget? It means strong. And it represents the current generation of young women. These letters are my attempt to break through the chaos and the crap that’s flying at today’s young woman in order to offer advice and encouragement, from me and other incredible women who remember what it was like to be in her shoes.

If you’re a teen girl and you’ve got a question or issue you’d like us to address, let me know. Just click on the contact button (that round envelope icon at the top of the sidebar) and send me your thoughts. If you’re a strong adult woman who remembers those teen years clearly and would like to write to Bridget, feel free to contact me and tell me about yourself.