Dear Tori,

Lately, I have been under a great amount of stress. I am afraid of my friends abandoning me, due to a secret I have been keeping about my sexuality. I’m afraid to let everyone know about who I really am inside, and it is becoming really difficult for me to maintain this lie. It feels like a huge weight on my shoulders that I cannot drop. Sometimes, I feel that I want to escape to somewhere far away, like Alabama, with only a hot pocket in my hand so at least I can eat away my troubles. Please help!

Confused and Troubled Teen

 

Dear Confused and Troubled Teen,

Keeping lies is one of the hardest things you can do; they only cause guilt, unhappiness, and stress.

The only way to relieve this stress is to let it out, even though it’s probably the most terrifying route to take. But in the end, it’ll be the only one that lets you live as yourself because this secret is a part of your identity.

Now, the pace at which you walk down this path is completely up to you. You’ve already started down this path by telling me about your secret.

If you’re scared your friends will abandon you and you aren’t ready to tell all of them, you can start slowly by telling one friend whom you deeply trust, and know won’t judge you.

Doing this will lessen the weight you’ve being carrying, and give you someone you can actually talk to and share more of yourself with.

The reality is that we are living in a changing world where your sexuality doesn’t define you, and shouldn’t change how people look at you, especially your friends.

If they don’t accept you for who you are, then they aren’t your friends because, although I said that your sexuality doesn’t define you, it is a part of you just as much as your sense of humour, your appearance, or your hobbies.

If they can’t accept that, then all you can do is make new friends who love and accept you for you.

You may find that this is actually a blessing in disguise that shows you which of your friends are loyal and genuine.

Although Alabama is warm and the birthplace of an amazing musical, running away from this lie and running away from yourself won’t solve anything.

Being honest is going to be hard, maybe the hardest thing you’ll ever do because being vulnerable is hard.

I admit change is scary. You’ve experienced that; we’ve all experienced that, like when you walked into VP on your first day of school.

Putting the weight down will be scary, but the scariest part of change isn’t how you will adapt, it’s how the people around you will.

If you are currently lacking faith in them, have faith in yourself and the friendships you’ve created.

Take the fear that’s causing your stress, and use it as fuel become brave once again by sharing your secret with someone you completely trust.

My advice is to trust your friends and tell them the truth. It will be hard, it will be scary, but most of all I think that it will be worth it.

I know you are afraid, but you won’t know what will happen when you tell the truth unless you are honest with someone else.

Don’t run away. Stay, face the problem, and no matter how it goes, know that it will make you stronger and freer than you were before.

So start at your own pace, and when you start, you’ll feel the stress slowly fade away.

And I promise that when you reach the end of the path, you and I can celebrate by splitting a hot pocket.

 

To putting the weight down and finding friends with whom you can eat hot pockets,

Tori

 

 

Dear Tori,

I’m in Grade 11, but a lot of my close friends are in Grade 12. I’m super bummed because all of my friends are going away to another school, and I won’t be able to see them on a daily basis. When they talk about university acceptances, I get excited for them, but also a little sad. I’m terrified of losing touch with them because they are truly amazing! How can I keep in touch with them without seeming overly clingy?

Secluded Student

 

Dear Secluded Student,

It’s always hard when friends move away, but if you and your friends put in the time and effort, you’ll still be close friends.

You should make the most of the time you have left together, but also keep in mind that your friends will want to spend time with their friends in Grade 12 for the same reasons.

The summer is also a good time to see them as much as you can before they’re gone, especially if they’re leaving the city, because all of you probably won’t be too busy.

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with people you don’t see often. You can use social media, text them, call them every so often, e-mail, Skype, visit, or even send snail mail!

In fact, I recommend a combination of those things because it’ll get boring if you’re only ever talking to your friends through text messages or e-mails.

Remember that university is a lot different from high school, and it’ll also take your friends some time to adjust to the new environment.

This means they’ll most likely be busy with school or just figuring out university life.

When you want to talk to them, try to do it when you know they won’t be busy, like weekends, breaks, or reading weeks.

You can always talk to them about how you feel, and work out a schedule once they’re in university so you can still keep in touch, without too many time conflicts.

As these students in Grade 12 are your close friends, I’m sure they’ll miss you as much as you’ll miss them.

Of course they’re excited about moving on from high school, but leaving something familiar is often bittersweet.

It may sometimes be sad for you to hear about your friends getting accepted into universities, but you should think about how excited they probably are.

Support them because they’re probably feeling quite anxious, and having a friend to comfort them will be appreciated.

Since a lot of your close friends are graduating, you can use this as a chance to make new friends in your own grade. It’s never too late to make new friends!

Also, take this time to learn from them because you’ll be in the same situation in a year from now.

Instead of dwelling on what will happen months from now, focus on the time you have with your friends right now, and try to enjoy that while you still see them on a daily basis.

 

To keeping in touch and remembering to smile,

Tori