A Little Advice... - Brandon Onitsuka
Dear questionably styled, terrified-out-of-your-mind freshman Brandon,
You think school is hard right now, don’t you? Just wait. It only gets more hectic from here. But in all seriousness, there is a lot I wish you would have known. After four years at Stevenson, you have been through a lot-- you’ve grown, relationships have changed, but most of all, you have come to know yourself better. These first few months are going to be tough, unexpected hurdles will be thrown your way. But, you’ll overcome them, (not without a few bruises though).
What I want you to know first, is that you are not alone. Freshman year can be an isolating time as you’re attempting to navigate a new environment while simultaneously trying to perform well in class. Though you may be under stress, there are those who are willing to help you.
Go to your teachers, that is what they are there for. You may be nervous to talk to them because, for you, it was never something you had to do before. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but something necessary for your understanding and success.
You will find that by asking, you not only get the help you need, but also start to build a one-on-one relationship with those teachers, and they will continue even when you are no longer in their class.
I know that being in a new environment you were scared to stick out, but I want you to get out of your comfort zone. For you, freshman Brandon, sports are just not your thing, but you do not need to take the easy way out with the sports requirement.
Try something new, you may find new passions and make great friends through trying new activities. There is so much offered to you and you will soon realize you want to try it all but you can only do so much, but while you have the opportunity, take advantage of all the new activities and clubs that you can.
You will find yourself becoming a dancer(?), a musician, and an artist. Though you may have had a vague idea that these things interest you, you will find that you actually do enjoy them and you will have fun doing them.
Now moving past the vague advice that I have for you, I want to speak to your biggest fear. You are a scared, young, naive gay kid and you are still trying to find yourself. Know that you will find that you are supported and that fear will remain but lessen over time. One thing is that you will not have the chance to learn about queer issues, instead, you will have to experience them firsthand. Though now, in my position, I am unable to save you from that situation, I can help make it better for others. The one thing I wish was different is simple: I wish I had known more. I wish that you could have been educated on the dangers out there and had more than the internet to learn about LGBTQ+ related issues. You have no idea what you are doing, no matter how much you feel you know. It is important that you reach out to trusted people in your life to educate yourself on the issues that are important to you. I know that I cannot change the past, but I can do everything in my power to make things better for the next gay kid out there, to ensure the same thing never happens again. And it all starts with education. I wish, not only for those queer kids out there but for everyone, that there is more awareness surrounding these issues.
You are in a very different place now but all that growth and change all started somewhere. Take advantage of every opportunity available to you, keep yourself busy with the things that make you happy and the people that support you. And most importantly, be excited to experience a fun, fulfilling, and (in)formative (check the alliteration) next four years. I wish you the best of luck!
Get out there and kill it,
Your slightly wiser, but not any taller senior self :)