This week I was asked to speak at Impact Day at my daughters high school. My daughter has asked me to talk about how I overcame AN obstacle in my life. She wanted me to address adversity and give the people in attendance advice on how they too could overcome adversity. I was so moved by the magic we created in that gymnasium that I got on Facebook live and recorded my words.
Here is the text of part of my speech:
The place I kept coming back to was my fathers suicide when I was 6. A death that even today still rocks me to my core. I thought of the suicide of the boy I used to nanny. Andrew was my first child. He used to put on my makeup. He loved Whitney Houston and he loved me. He was HIV positive and addicted to meth by age 19. He took his own life before his 25th birthday. Of Katelynn’s childhood friend Hunter who just took his life last week. There is a suicide every 40 seconds. Worldwide suicide kills more people than war and murder COMBINED. If suicide had taught me anything it is that love, respect, and compassion for myself is the key to living a full on brilliant, brave life.
When I was asked to speak to you today I thought to myself, my life has been broken and fragmented a thousand different ways. It has torn itself apart over and over and over since I was 6 years old. But it is the suicides that hurt the most. The why’s that are left over. The questions that last a lifetime. The fear that the reason my daddy died was because I was too loud. The worry that the reason that Andrew died was because I didn’t love him well enough.
Today there are 5 gifts that I want to give you as you engage in this amazing journey called life. Today I want you to know that there are a bazillion options left open to you if you just look inside yourself and ask others for help and guidance:
1. Listen to that voice inside of you. What would happen if you listened to the song of your heart without worrying how others would react? Would you kiss the boy? Write the post? Speak your truth even if your voice shakes? What would you do if you didn’t care what the outcome was? Listen to that voice and then find a mentor (adult or young person) and ask them to help you make your dreams a reality.
2. Make a list of your passions and interests. Find what DRIVES you. Passionately protest mediocrity. Remember you become what you worship. Does what you worship collide with your values or does it make your soul and heart sing and make you feel whole? Who do you look up to? How can you reach out to them and tell them that they are awesome?
3. Compliment people for things other than their appearance. I do this daily, most often with complete strangers. Here are some ways you can do it. Try it today before you leave school.
4. Speculate and ask questions. We may be adults but we don’t know everything. Love rewards the brave. How can you stand in the fire of your understanding and question authority? What will you do to challenge the status quo? How can you take that inner rebel inside of you and use it for good and not evil?
5. Even when you are broken and fragmented know that you are loved and you are love. Change your focus. Every single day when you wake up in the morning open your eyes and think to yourself not about how deeply flawed you are, but of how deeply loved you are. Someone loves you (my grandma and grandpa loved me). You may not know it but they do. Ask for help. PLEASE. Help may come from surprising places but you won’t know until you ask.
The live video is below. Today I have a favor to ask. Will you please share this message with someone you think could benefit from hearing it? I would love you to spread the Word of the Bird.
Oh and hey…this week I launched a new online course called Fanning the Flames Online. It is a class about how you can engage in social justice action on your own terms in your community. It is just $97 and as my special gift to you, for the ENTIRE MONTH OF DECEMBER, you get 10% off with the coupon code CHANGEYOURWORLD. Just pop that code in at check out! Go make your mark!
It’s Friday, fuck shit up y’all,
Dr. Melissa Bird