When I was a teenager, I spent most of my free time attending a Boys and Girls Club known as Dawson Community Center.
It was a safe haven from the rigors of daily life, school and home. There were no teachers or parents to tell you what to do or how to act so long as you followed a few simple club rules.
Weekdays were spent in the center’s lounge talking about anything from music, popular television shows to the most important topic of all – the opposite sex. Weekends in the center were filled with such special activities as variety shows, dances and sports tournaments. I have had a lifetime of special memories from those days and consider them very precious.
Every teenager needs a place like this!
It is here that I met a great deal of people who changed my life in a positive way and some continue to do so. During this time in my life, I was dealing with an identity crisis and battling many emotional issues. If it had not been for the special friends and staff that I encountered at the center, I probably would not have made it to adulthood. Certainly none of them ever knew how hard I battled with depression and how often I pondered the thought of suicide. The one time I acted upon it, I spent three hours in a hospital having my stomach pumped.
Ask any teenager how important friends are and they will most likely say “they mean the world to me. I cannot live without them.” Unfortunately, we grow up and lose contact with the people that were once an important part of our garden. Peter Pan tried to warn us, but we didn’t listen. Fortunately, social media platforms have offered the world a second chance to reconnect with new and old friends and because of it, you are reading this now.
What I find fascinating is how we classify our friendships.
For the most part, we have classified them in the exact same way we did when we were teenagers. It almost seems as if nothing changed. The people who were once popular, still seem to be even if they are undeserving of the acclamation. The people who were not so popular, seem no more popular to us now than they were back in our youth, even if they have accomplished the impossible. Why?
Do we not realize that the labels we gave to those individuals were ridiculous? Does anyone even warrant labels? Why do we classify people in any category at all? Do we not believe that people can change and deserve merit?
If we believe that, then we have no hope for the future.
We need to believe that people can and do change. I personally have changed a great deal and while it no longer matters as much to me, I still want people to know.
I am less critical of others, I am more confident, patient and I appreciate every moment and every person in my life. I suppose in some way, this is why I continue to write. I want to leave a message of hope that goes something like this, “No matter what challenges you face, your life has meaning and you have much to offer. You will learn, you will grow and you will change, all you have to do is hang on for the ride and never give up!”
I do believe that God sent you into my life to me for a reason, to remind you how important you are to me. If nothing else, you matter to me.
My garden of life might have its own path, but I can add as many flowers and trees into it that I choose and that is what makes it mine!