**As those of you that have read my book at all would know: I am the Superintendent of Cadets for the local St John Ambulance Centre. My senior cadets range in age from 11-18, and this is a post geared toward them and any other youth that may read this blog.**
I know, I know. I’m old. I’m double your age in most cases, even more in others, and that must mean that I have no idea what it’s like to be you. It’s true that I haven’t lived your life and I may not know the inner workings of some of your lives. But I do know what it’s like to be young. I am not as close in age to you as your Divisional Officer or Cadet Leaders, but I am not so old yet that my memory is failing.
I remember being young and not being taken seriously because of my age. Maybe sometimes I wasn’t taken seriously because of my gender. I remember not always having an adult I could properly confide in or that I felt could or would take my side if I needed them to. I had good parents, but I understand as a teen it is hard to confide in your parents sometimes because… well… you think they’re old and just don’t understand. Or you might be afraid you’d get in trouble. Please know that you have someone you can confide in: me (or one of the other leaders should that be more comfortable for you.)
I remember the relationships and emotional roller coasters. I remember being so devastated during breakups or rejections that I lashed out; saying and doing things I regretted afterwards. I still remember the cruel words I said to one of my boyfriends as we broke up at 16. I still regret it, though he has long since forgiven me and remains my friend to this day.
You may say “But Ms Rae, you don’t know how I feel…” and I would bet you a dollar I do. I’ve been through many of the major teen issues myself – depression, dating abuse, bullying, etc. Those I didn’t directly experience were often experienced by my close friends at the time. I have been frustrated, jealous, and blindingly angry. I have felt depressed, scared, and let down. I have made poor choices when I was feeling low or isolated. I have also been in love, I’ve had infatuations and felt joyful or happy for no reason. I have felt these emotions; I do know how you feel.
The point of this letter is to tell you I love you, we love you, and we are in your corner if you need us. There are people that understand and people to support you. Even if you don’t want to talk and you just need someone to sit with or give you a hug as you cry. Each and every one of you is beautiful, intelligent, and talented. You are all worthy of respect and love. You are worthy, and I am here to remind you of that if you need me to.