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It Gets Better: the hill

The phrase "over the hill" is based on the concept of life as being shaped like a hill: the central portion, the highest point, are your middle years, and after that comes a decline toward death. I like to think of "over the hill" as meaning that someone has lost sight of their youth, that they no longer have a good perspective on what it's like to be young.

On the other side of that metaphor, the young are faced with a steep climb toward adulthood. It looks all the more daunting because they can't see the whole hill, and all they have behind them is a fairly short and usually easy path leading to the steep part. They can't possibly have a proper sense of perspective, because they simply haven't lived long enough to learn how to make a fair judgment of challenges and time. 

Now, here's the thing: even if they understand, intellectually, that four years of high school is a very short part of their whole life, it's still subjectively a significant part of their life up to that point. Four years out of the twelve in grade school is a third of their life, and the five to seven years before grade school are so different, they don't really count. So having a proper sense of perspective about what a small part of their overall life high school is doesn't necessarily help at all with handling the emotional experience of that time. They're still going to find it hard, they're still going to struggle, they may still sometimes feel it's just too steep to climb and they can't make it over that part to find where it gets easier. And when they're doing that climbing, sometimes they can't even see that it does get easier, they just see the steep rough climb up to an edge and nothing but empty sky is apparent beyond that. 

That's what the It Gets Better Project is about: it's about tossing a rope over that edge, down to the climbers, with a note attached that says "don't fear, we're up here waiting for you, take hold and keep climbing." Nothing quite replaces the experience of being above the slope, on the upper part of the hill, and seeing what life is like from that vantage; but you can try to help them imagine the perspective, imagine that they too really can make it up the slope and see for themselves.

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( 1 wrote — Write )
p_m_cryan
Oct. 7th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I really like this.
( 1 wrote — Write )

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