In fact, at one point in my junior year of high school, it got so bad that I lost nearly all of my friends ... because I stupidly, in a moment of unbridled (and unjustified) self-pity declared, in front of three friends, "My life sucks. I just don't have any friends!"
Of course, I wanted them to reassure me. I wanted them to say, "No, we're your friends. We like you."
Instead, they got justifiably pissed that I was completely negating their friendship, and wanted nothing to do with me. Especially the girl who I was interested in ... and who, at the time, was even interested in me back!
Still other friends turned away from me as well. One of the sweetest girls I ever knew said that she just couldn't stand to spend time with me, because it was like I was a "psychic vampire" who just leeched all of the positive energy off of people.
Because I was in this funk, people were deciding they didn't want to be with me. My irrational fears were making themselves become reality, in possibly one of the most tangible ways I've ever experienced in my whole life. I was horribly depressed and couldn't think of any way out.
And that's when a senior, Sunshine, took the time to help me out. Sunshine basically became a mentor, helping me work through some of my issues and figure out how to view myself in a way that had some measure of self-respect. And, as I began viewing myself with respect, my relationships began to slowly mend. Others began to, once again, view me with respect.
So I decided today to give to something designated by Sunshine, who is now an intern Unitarian Universalist minister, focusing on anti-poverty work with grassroots organizations.
When I asked Sunshine where to give, though, I didn't immediately get a definite answer. In the socratic way that I remembered so well, I was offered a set of possibilities, none of which was right and none of which was wrong. (While this was great when I was trying to "find myself" in high school, I'm not particularly sure it's the best way to designate a donation.) Here are the options I was provided:
- A Unitarian Universalist social action fund
- Unitarian Universalist denomination giving
- Her own local church, West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, in Rocky River, OH. (The West Shore sermons, including some from Sunshine, are available online.)
Of these, I figured that the local church probably needed some funding the most. (Sunshine confirmed this on a follow-up e-mail.) So today, the give goes to West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church... because a decade and a half ago, Sunshine offered a helping hand to a very confused, desperately needy kid.
It doesn't even begin to repay what I owe.