If You Stick Around (A Letter To Bullied Teens)


Dear Hurting Teenager,

I know you want to leave.

I know the horrible, endless walks through the hallways that you endure every morning, near vomiting.
I know the afternoon bus rides to Hell where you sit frozen with fear, praying to just become invisible.
I know the locker room beat-downs and the lunch room stares and the wounding words behind your back and the hateful taunts in your face.
I know the incessant online trolls who hound you day and night; who hurl verbal violence from behind the anonymity and security of phone screens and fake handles.

I know how it takes every bit of strength you have just to paint on a smile and pretend you’re OK and to hide how much it hurts and to act “normal”.

I know that all of this has left you exhausted; that you’ve numbed yourself and hurt yourself and starved yourself, in the hope that their voices will become silent and their fists will be lifted and you can finally breathe again.

I know that right now you’d rather leave than live.

And even though I’m not standing in your shoes and even though I don’t know you and even though I have no right at all—I’m asking you to stick around.

I’m asking you to stay; to endure your incredibly painful, totally senseless now because I can see your glorious, blindingly beautiful then, if you do.

You see my friend, if you stick around your giants will shrink. All those monumental terrorists whose daily words fall heavy upon you like boulders, will begin to get smaller and smaller and smaller as you walk deeper into your life. Their names will fade from your memory, their power will be drained to nothing, and those whose opinions and accusations now loom so very large and important to you will be but specks that you brush from your shirtsleeve on the way to greatness.

If you stick around, you will see just how big the world is, and just how small the minds of those who once tried to ruin you were. You will understand how much hatred they had for themselves, and see the weakness that tried so hard to look like strength; the insecurity that masked itself as arrogance and as unbelievable as it is now, you will actually pity them, realizing how very wounded they were.

If you stick around, you will travel to amazing places that will take your breath away and see sunsets that have yet to be painted in the evening sky.

If you stick around, you’ll eat that cheeseburger; the one that will cause you to make an actual audible noise in public (and you won’t regret it).

If you stick around, you will hear that song that will change your life and you’ll dance to it like no one’s watching (and then not care that they are).

If you stick around, you will hold babies and see movies and laugh loudly and you’ll fall in love and have your heart broken—and you’ll fall in love again.

If you stick around, you will study and learn and grow, and find your calling and find your place and you’ll lay in the grass, feeling gratitude for the sun upon your face and the breeze in your hair.

If you stick around, you will reach a spot that the sadness won’t let you see right now—you’ll reach tomorrowAnd that place is filled with possibility. It is a day you’ve never been to. It is not this terrible day. There, you will not feel exactly what you are feeling right now. You may be stronger or see things differently or find a clearing and life may look a way it hasn’t in a long time: it may look worth staying for.

And yeah, there will be other stuff too; disappointments and heartache and regrets and mistakes. You will screw things up and be let down, you’ll face terrible pain, and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever make it through.

But then you’ll remember how you got through the hallways and the bus rides and the locker room and the lunch room, and you might remember this letter and you’ll remember how freakin’ strong you were—and you’ll realize you’re gonna be OK.

So I guess this is just a reminder, from someone who sees what you may not see from here; the future, one that will be a lot better with you in it.

This is a plea, a promise, a dare, and an invitation.

Hang on.
You are loved.
Things will get better.
Trust me.

Cry and get angry and ask for help and punch a wall and scream into your pillow and take a deep breath and call someone who loves you.

But whatever you do…

Please, stick around.


(Note: If you’re struggling with depression, desire to self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, talk to someone.

Help can be found here and here and here now. You are worth fighting for.)




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99 thoughts on “If You Stick Around (A Letter To Bullied Teens)

  1. Such a good letter. I once was in this exact place. I remember feeling like things would never be better and I could not figure a way out. I’m so thankful to my best friend. She had no idea how close I was, but she took me to her church to visit one Wednesday night. This was the turning point that saved my life. In that church I found everything I needed to live (love, compassion, friends, first loves and a since of belonging that i’d never felt before. Now I can see how God directed all of this just to save me. Never give up!!! As hard as it is to see now things can and will get better. Your stuggle will be able to help someone else some day (mine has)

  2. I am an SRO for a school in Ohio, and I epuld love to have this written on a poster or pamphlet for me to hand out to students who are considering suicide. Please email me if this is something that I can use!

    I woulf like something much shorter than a book so if I can have it posted in my office or hand a smaller packet out to a student so they can read in 5-10 mins to help them out, that would be ideal.

    This is eloquently written and I believe cpuld help to save the life of a student in need

  3. I keep hearing people saying that life will get better… in my experience, it only gets harder and harder, and I never stop getting surprised after I meet new people and listen to their stories because they made me realise that we all suffer… I wonder why… I read once that the only 2 certain things in life are death and sadness so that when you feel happy you need to cherish it because it is the exception.

    I am the girl who smiles all the time and keep going through life ONLY because I think my bro would suffer if I am gone and because my goal in life is to protect the animals and environment but I see the hypocrisi in this world all the time and that upsets me… I see animal torture in the food shelves at the supermarket where you buy your meat and dairy, I see genetically modified food and how we contaminate our soils, plastic everywhere (which is not degradable).. I think that now I am hungry but I can get something to eat if I open my fridge while at this exact moment in time there are children in Africa dying… and SO ON…

    I dont want to live in a world like this and all these thoughts torture me every day… I try to live a sustainable life and be coherent with what I believe but how the world works makes me sad… so yes, my life will be “ok” (despite of all the bad things..) but the world is NOT ok and that depresses me… one day soon hopefully I will not be here anymore..

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  5. Thank you for writing this. You’ve addressed it to teens and young adults but it is, remarkably, universal. I’m 50 y.o. and have had suicidal thoughts since my pre-teens. Hard work and a lot of great therapy is why I’m still alive today. I’m saving this letter. I’m printing it out for my “coping skills” journal. Thank you kind Sir.

  6. With all the talk of bullies today, it seems to me the attacks are much worse today than eve 10 years ago.
    So, here is my suggestion: back in the olden days, before we had liberalism, which seems only to protect the weak and evil people, if we had enough of bullies we merely smashed them in the face, drew blood, they cried, no one cared and then they shut the hell up.

    I suggest drawing blood with a fist quickly, rather than le hurt and pain build would certainly stop the bullies fast. It would also reduce gun violence which takes so many more lives than intended.

    Bullying rage spreads outward in gun violence while suicide happens when bully rage in internalized.

    Just an observation from a great grandma.

  7. Beautiful. I hope this letter reaches the hands of every child, or those who once were children so that they may see a glimmer or hope in an otherwise dark and lonely existance.

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