This year has been a crazy experience, and definitely the most difficult and eye-opening year thus far. I have become friends with so many new people, and just as I have become more mature, these new friends have differing and strong opinions about topics up for discussion. Nothing is more satisfying to me than a nice, intellectual discussion where both people are open minded and there’s no judgment but just pure back-and-forth debate. Though I wish these perfect discussions happened all the time, there are people who feel they can’t speak up, or those who seem to lack the words to say how they really feel. This begs the question, what obstacles prevent people from expressing themselves?
There are of course various reasons for this, but after just finishing reading the novel The Catcher in the Rye, you see common take on why someone can’t express themself. The main character, Holden, has a difficult time expressing himself, and an even harder time finding someone to listen to him. You find out early in the novel that Holden’s younger brother passed away, and after an episode of breaking windows in the garage and refusing to talk to a psychologists (pg. 39), he was left with a lot of undealt and bottled up emotions all while being shipped off to boarding school. From a medical standpoint, this is most likely why Holden continuously looks for someone to talk to and understand him, and also has to do with his love for the past and hate for change. Though, ironically, one can infer the whole novel is a dialogue between him and some kind of psychologist, meaning the only one who listened to him was a professional listener, but sometimes that may be just what someone need when going through traumatic experiences.
Another reason someone might not be able to express themselves is because they don’t know how. In today’s society, more and more people are becoming more open-minded to the discussion of emotion and the human psyche. The amount of people going to therapy (without any defined mental illness) has risen and activism is becoming more popular to help minority groups gain recognition. Yet, the second most highest cause of death in males ages 15-24 is suicide. Though we’re moving forward, we still seem to be teaching young boys that emotions are too feminine and shouldn’t be discussed. Obviously this isn’t working, and as our generation moves forward, we must remember to teach our little siblings and our future children how to be healthy and strong, both physically and emotionally.
On the same note of being unable to express oneself because they do not know how, people in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer ++) community most often don’t realize they fall into this category of humans. Though labels aren’t necessary, for the sake of growing up people like to know a little bit about where they belong. Most LGBTQ children don’t know the feelings they may be having actual exist! Luckily, in the United States there is a majority support for equality in all fronts, but unfortunately in many other countries being LGBTQ is not talked about, and in some cases is even illegal. From our classes thinglink wall, I posted a video by Ashley Mardell titled “The ABC’s of LGBT” where she talks about the different terms someone can use to identify themselves as and how to properly address others. Link to the amazingly educational video is below. People like Ashley on YouTube or other public places make me so happy, as they keep up this conversation to make everyday life easier and more inclusive. And as said before with suicide being a leading cause of death in our nation, helping even one person by helping them discover who they are, or simply being respectful enough to treat them as they are can help them begin to express themselves as who they truly are and continue the cycle of generosity.
This year, though most academically challenging, has been emotionally stabling and opening for me. As I said before, nothing makes me happier than a conversation with open dialogue and open-minded people, but until this year I didn’t know how to have a conversation like that. This year has truly made me come out of my shell, while also making me realize I have a shell to come out of. In my English class we have done so many activities forcing you to reflect back on what you’ve done, and it really makes you look at what you’re doing wrong and what needs to be changed. Through many interactions with my fellow classmates, I’ve learned of many ways to speak in a classroom through various class discussions. I also learned how to research newspapers and websites through various projects, teaching me how to look for the information on what is important to me, such as the statistics in this blog or different activist topics I’ve recently found myself interested in. This year I also applied myself to activities outside of the classroom, making sure I’m actively involved in groups and clubs to make a change in the world. Sometimes expression is difficult because people don’t realize the problem, but once you do, it’s a whole lot easier to overcome.
P.S. BE YOURSELF AND LET OTHERS DO THE SAME PLEASE!