Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Vacation!

            Wait – what am I going to do for 3 months?

It is that time of year when most students don’t have anything to do for about 3 months. We have been working all year long to get the grades we want and now it is time for a break. Around May and June, we tell ourselves that we can’t wait for school to be over, but what is coming next? Have you thought about what you are going to do all summer? Were those jokes about sleeping all day long with breaks in-between for food and the restroom your actual plan? Or were you looking for something else to do in between? We've got you covered! 

In my experience, I have had those days where all I did was sleep and eat, but I couldn’t handle it for more than that; I had to go outside and do something. The first thing (and probably most easy thing to do) I did was taking a walk outside. Not only did I manage to breathe fresh air, but also I bumped into a friend along the way. Walking and doing other physical activity is a great way to spend your summer vacation. The Mayo Clinic gives us 7 benefits of regular physical activity. You can take a look at them here:

After I bumped into my friend, we ended up hanging out and going to a movie. Believe it or not, being social is healthy for you as well. Just take a look at what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it: It doesn’t matter if you’re with a friend, sister, mentor, etc.; as long as you are being social with others, that’s all that counts.

Bumping into my friend was good for me at the moment because I was feeling a bit tired from my job. This brings me to my next suggestion. Have you tried considering getting a summer job/internship/volunteer position? Try it! I have done all three and though not all were great, I definitely learned what my interests were – I also made friends and great memories in the process!
Check out your local community center or school campus for information pertaining to getting a job/internship/volunteer position. If none are local, try asking a trusted adult or good friend if they know of anything out there where you can help.

After my friend and I said goodnight, I came home, ate supper, and curled up to a good book. Finding hobbies such as reading can be very relaxing. It took me a while to figure out that I enjoy reading, but once I knew, I was thrilled. Is there something you like doing (e.g., hiking, paintings, canoeing, singing)? If not, ask what other people’s interests are and see if you can join in. Check out some of the interesting things people are posting on YouTube ( - you may have to filter through the crazy. And be warned you may be sucked in for hours!

And I am not like most people, but over the summer I also ended up making tons of lists. These lists mainly consisted of my plans for the upcoming year, etc. Using the summer to plan what you are going to do after summer can, at least for me, feel kind of stress relieving because I feel a little bit more prepared and less worried about what will happen. What are your goals? What do you want to try? Where do you want to go?

However, every person is different, and these were just a few things that made me happy over summer. If you end up not doing any of these things, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have a fun summer. Do whatever makes you happy! 

Call or chat (M,T,Th) Teen Link anytime between 6pm and 10pm if anything comes up this summer that you want to talk about. Our number is 1-866-TEENLINK or 1-866-833-6546. We are open 7 days a week and are more than happy to talk with you! Enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Identifying your prejudices

I normally think of myself as a fairly open minded person.  I support gay rights, acknowledge the injustices in our legal system, and write blog posts supporting good causes.

In light of this, I surprised myself a couple weeks ago when watching a movie.  The movie itself is not relevant, except for the final scene.  In this scene, the main character gives an expensive Palm Beach house to a poor country couple, still looking unshaven and wearing overalls.  Without realizing it, I was thinking "that's not right, they don't fit in in Palm Beach.  They should live out in the country somewhere."  This thought surprised me.  It should not matter where they are from, or what they look like, when determining what neighborhoods they can live in.  I realized that this must be due to some subconscious prejudice against people from the country coming to live in nice parts of the city.

This got me to thinking: what other sub-conscious prejudices might I have?  It is a sobering thought, to see that maybe I am not as open minded as I had thought, yet I might not even recognize it.  So, I have been trying to figure out how I could possibly identify some of these sub-conscious thoughts, before they can have a negative effect on my actions.  Below I will not talk about what I found, but instead the methods I have used to discover these prejudices.

What makes you uncomfortable

What originally got me thinking with the movie was that it made me uncomfortable.  So, one thing that you could do is observe yourself throughout your day to day life, and try to see what specific things make you uncomfortable.  Of course, many of these will have a good reason.  However, some might just turn out to be caused by some unconscious thought you are having.  It is those thoughts you want to identify, so you can be aware of them while making future decisions. 

Thoughts you cannot let yourself think

Sometimes, you might get a thought, and instantly discard it as a waste of time.  Well, sometimes it might be useful to look at why that thought is a waste of time.  Is it actually something that is not worth your effort, or something you are suppressing.  Once you find one that does not have a clear reason for being a waste of time, you might just have found an unknown prejudice.

Your actions

Finally, look at your actions.  Who do you greet on the street?  Where do you donate money?  Would you turn down an invitation to an nontraditional wedding?  These actions have the potential to be very telling about what goes on behind your conscious thoughts.  Do you have a clear reason for taking one action over another, or is your subconsciousness doing that for you?

I will admit, I have not tested these methods that much.  Maybe my thoughts during that movie scene were a one time deal, and I don't have others lurking below the surface.  However, in order to make the most informed actions as possible, I would like to know what other factors affect my decisions.  I will be taking a closer look at my life over the next few weeks, will you?


And as always, feel free to call Teen Link if you would like to talk to somebody while working through any of this:  1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546) every night from 6pm to 10pm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Pride Flag Represents More Than Gay Rights

It is time to let your Pride flag fly and join together to celebrate our colorful and diverse LGBTQ community! This has been a big year for Seattle and for Washington. In February of 2012 Washington State Passed the Marriage Equality Act, allowing same sex couples to get married and have the same rights as heterosexual couples. This is an exciting development for the gay community and hopefully will begin to change the hearts and minds of many who have seen this community through a negative lens. The gay community and it's allies have worked hard this year to see that make marriage equality a reality, but they battle for equality does not end there.

Not very many people know this, but the Seattle Space Needle has not always been very supportive to the gay community. Over the years they have selectively flown the pride flag during pride week in order to maintain a positive face for the community. However, The Wright family, who owns the Space Needle, is quite conservative. It could be argued that in the past they have only decided to fly the flag during times when they found it would be detrimental for business if they did not. This year, with all of the support for marriage equality, they were eager to meet with gay activist and supporters to let them know that they would like to fly the pride flag to show their "support." That was until they found out there were other necessary conditions attached to this agreement.

Another thing people may not know is the Seattle Space Needle has been going through a labor dispute with their employees for the last couple years. The administration has refused to give their employees fair contracts that would allow them fair working conditions, health care benefits, and job security.

The Seattle LGBT Commission and other LGBT organizers have been working with immigrant and workers rights organizers in Seattle to see that these discriminatory practices are stopped. These communities came together to write a letter in support of the fair labor agreement for the employees of the the Space Needle. They spoke about how the Pride flag represents more than the gay community. It stands for equal rights for all communities. They made it clear that they did not want the Pride flag to fly on a monument that was run on unfair practices and was promoting inequality.

When the Seattle LGBT Commission and other LGBT organizers came together to meet with Seattle Space Needle's management team, the Space Needle's management tried to placate these organizers by agreeing to fly the Pride flag if they would drop their support of the immigrant and labor rights communities. They refused to accept this underhanded offer and instead started a petition to encourage the Space Needle to do the right thing!

If you want to know more, check out the petition and help us get the Pride flag flying for the right reasons!

Although the Seattle Space Needle is definitely off the list of gay friendly places, for the moment. There are a lot of awesome organizations who are excited to support LGBTQ youth. Lambert House has some great resources for LGBTQ youth. Lambert House is a safe place for youth to be supported and evolved in the community, you can check out their website at
to find more LGTBQ youth resources and information about the house.

If you have any questions about more organizations or just want someone safe to talk to don't hesitate to call Teen Link at 1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546). It is open every night from 6-10pm.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Depression: You are not alone

I’m just so tired.

I can’t believe I got another bad grade! What’s wrong with me?

No it’s okay. You guys have fun without me.

I’m a failure.

I just want to be alone.

Nobody understands. Nobody cares about me.

Depression. Whether it is a self-diagnosis or a clinical diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, depression is no less of a serious issue. The teenage years are a time of development. While we can see our bodies changing, it is the unseen that makes the biggest difference—our brains. A brain going through puberty is experiencing dramatic changes in brain chemistry, making the teenagers particularly vulnerable to depression, among many other mental health problems. Add on the unending schoolwork, drama among friends, disagreements with parents, the constant pressure to be the best… it is not surprising that many teens feel depressed.

We have all been in a place where we felt like what might be the smallest problem is the end of the world. A problem might be upsetting, frustrating, ultimately discouraging, overwhelming, even unbearable! There is no instant fix to all your problems or stresses, but that does not mean that you have to just sit there and suffer in silence. Sometimes when we are trying to take on the world, we forget about ourselves. Sometimes, a little self-care is all it takes to start to feel better.

I have a project do tomorrow! And a presentation, and my final exam. IN. THE. SAME. DAY. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO RELAX.

Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Drink some water. Take a shower. Five, ten minutes is all it takes.

Take a music break and listen to your favorite motivational song! A great song is So Small by Carrie Underwood

Talk to a friend about your problems or talk about something fun! Call up that friend that you have started feeling distant from and make plans to hang out Friday night.

Having depression does not mean that there is something “wrong with you,” and you are definitely not alone in the feeling. If the depressed feelings are persistent, consider taking the step to talk to the school counselor or a trusted teacher. Remember that there is no shame in seeking help for yourself.

And of course, come talk to us! The Teen Link phone line is open from 6-10pm every night of the year at 1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546).

To learn more about teenage depression and mental health, here are some interesting reads:

Monday, June 3, 2013

We are all human

Believe it or not, teenagers on the other side of the world are just like us! I recently went on a trip to South Africa with a program at my school. In South Africa we went to a high school in an old township where almost all the students are

black. We also went to a school that resides in, what used to be, a "whites-only" neighborhood, where almost all of the students are white. We (the 16 American students) got to know kids from both schools really well and coming back from the trip I felt like I had such close friends from both of the schools. One of the really amazing things, however, was that the kids from the two schools, one black and one white, became great friends with each other as well. During the trip we all set aside our differences, the color of our skin, the cultures we come from, the places we were born, and we all saw each other for what we truly are, which is human.
            Teenagers all around the world are more similar than we often expect. We all want a place to sleep and food to eat, we all want to love and we all want to be loved. We want to be accepted, included, and cared for.
            I think we often forget these things, I know I do. I even forget these things about the students I go to school with, who sit in all my classes and who do the same homework that I do. I forget the fact that we are all human and I let their gender, the color of their skin, the way they dress or the way they talk affect how I see them.
            I also know that people have done this to me. They have forgotten that I am human and treated me like I was something less than that. It’s at those moments that I feel like crumbling into the dirt below my feet, and the worst thing is, I really feel like I belong there. Unfortunately, I know this happens to a lot of other teenagers too.
            We forget that we all want the same things: love, happiness, shelter. We forget that we are all human. If you are feeling like you have been forgotten, left out, discriminated against or feeling anything else, big or small there is a place to turn. If  you want to talk confidentially to someone your age, who will not judge you and listen to who you are and what you are going through – call Teen Link at 866-461-3210.