Problems | Teen Ink


June 16, 2012
By LiteraryJustice PLATINUM, Alexandria, Virginia
LiteraryJustice PLATINUM, Alexandria, Virginia
45 articles 0 photos 2 comments


Problems are real. They’re as real as you and me. As real as the person that’s laughed at you, as real as the person who’s put you down, as real as the people that snicker at you, saying you’ll never be anything better than what you already are.

They’re as real as the people that make you feel like crap. The people that make you ashamed to live in your own skin. The people that make you wish you weren’t anything at all. A filler like the words “uh” and “um” that don’t have any meaning, any substance, any place at all.


They begin small, sometimes, or they burst forward, huge, consuming your life like an engulfing phage. They begin with words or actions or thoughts that worm into your brain and make the long trek to your heart where they find a warm nest to burrow into. They cloud your eyes and make everything seem dismal, grey and worn.

And sometimes, they even cut. Long gashes that appear overnight. Sporadically, you cry silent tears because you know you’re not supposed to, but you do it anyway hoping a passerby will take notice. Or maybe hoping that no one will see at all. Like you can just fade into the wall and disappear.


We all have them. Large or small. Crippling or ephemeral. Paralyzing or exasperating. We all have them.

Mine are not any bigger than yours. They are not any more important. They are not there, displayed on some pedestal, for you to look up at and say, “Wow, she’s got it a hell of a lot worse than me.” When it comes to matters of the soul, weight and measure play no role. Because truth is, any problem—selfish or universal—can drive you to a special place where no matter how hard you run, you never move an inch.


To all that have them, which is all of you, I know how it feels.

Not exactly. I don’t know what your particular problem is. What you’ve had to face. What you’ve had to endure. How many nights you’ve cried yourself to sleep or how many times you’ve repeated in your head that you’re not worth it. That no one cares. That you’re not pretty enough or strong enough or smart enough or good enough. That you’re alone.


They kind of have a way of uniting everyone in that respect. Because all of us have had that moment where we whisper that we’re not as “blank” as someone else. And that we never will be. Every one of us has looked at giving up with a solemn expression. Everyone has.

But, you haven’t given up. Not quite yet. And if you have some good sense, you won’t. If you have one thing you care about, one thing you believe in, one thing you want to see come to pass, then you won’t. You may think I’m talking about a picture-perfect world where there are no tears and no one screams angry hate in a mirror at themselves, but that’s wrong. I’m not. This is the world that could be if we all just stopped for a few seconds to take a look around.


Problems are real. They’re as real as you and me. As real as the person that’s laughed at you, as real as the person who’s put you down, as real as the people that snicker, saying you’ll never be anything better than what you already are.

But they’re also as real as the person that’s helped you. The one who’s offered advice when you didn’t ask for it, but secretly needed it more than anything. The one that offered their hand. The one that listened. And the one that believed in you when you refused to believe in yourself.


Do not discount them. Do not distance yourself from your feelings and from who you are. I’ll tell you a secret about problems. They won’t go away. There are no magic words. There is no secret ritual. There is nothing I can say or you can do to make them all evaporate. But, life gets better.

Not all at once. Not overnight. But, quick enough for you to laugh, smile, cry and maybe even live a little, before the next set comes around. And then the whole cycle starts all over again. And each time, it’s up to you to make the decision about where to go next and how to get there.


They take work and sometimes you need help. Whether you’re the quiet type or the loud type or the loving type or the hating type, sometimes you’re going to need someone there. Someone close, someone far, someone with a brain, someone with a heart, just someone—anyone who you can go to and say, “I need a moment. Can we talk?”

And it’s just those three simple words that can mean the world to you and me. I can tell you, there is always someone willing to listen. Remember that no problems are too stupid or petty or egotistical. You are important and your problems are, too. They are a part of you.


When they win—if you let them win—there are no words to describe the sadness that follows. There are no pretty metaphors that can be painted to show you how much hurt is carved. If you give up, then it’s over. Have you ever thought about that? Sure, there’s no more hurt. No more self-hate. No more pain or failure.

But, don’t be fooled, because there’s no gratification either. There’s no more laughter. No more happiness. No more love. No more triumphs or success or second chances for you to take. Because it’s over. You’re left with nothing, but the people you leave are left with your debt, unpaid in the time you’ll never spend with them again. The memories you’ve left them with as cruel reminders that you’re never coming back.


They’re as real as you and me. But, that reality makes them conquerable. Little by little if you keep trying you can whittle away at them until they’re just white noise. But, you need to care. Care enough to cry. Care enough to love. Care enough to dream.

With just a little work, they become just another part of life. Like the love, the disappointment, the happiness and everything else that makes living ‘living’. Always remember that otherwise, it’s not really living. It’s not worth living. A life without problems isn’t worth living.


Problems are real. They’re as real as you and me.

But, in the grand scheme of this beautiful gift called “life”, they’re only for now.

The author's comments:
Because suicide should never be the answer. And we should all remember that.

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