Some kids love to go back to school, they have lots of friends and socialize well! They love the ritual of new sneakers and new pencils; they rebound from disappointments and defeats and learn from their mistakes, in class and on the playground. Some kids have a more difficult time. They may be shy, they may not fit in with the crowd, they may be different somehow. . . Some children hate going back to school.
We need to pay attention to our children, we need to be mindful of the ones who don’t fit in; in grade school, middle school, high school, college and beyond.
Children and adolescents who feel isolated and alienated are often lonely, sad and sometimes, angry and volatile. They all grow up. They grow up and very bad things can happen when their mental heath needs are not diagnosed and treated.
We need to make young people’s mental heath a priority, because for some, back to school is Back to Stress, Peer Pressure, Bullying and Performance Anxiety. This desire to fit in with a group doesn’t change as we get older.
If we could cheerlead our community’s mental health with as much gusto as we cheer for our sports teams, club teams and celebrities we would go a long way toward eliminating the kind of violence we have seen so much of the last few years.
Dylann Roof, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church South Carolina, 2015. 9 dead.
Elliot Rodger, UCSB, 2014. 6 dead, 14 injured. Shooter commits suicide.
Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook, 20012. 28 dead. Shooter among the dead.
James E. Holmes-Movie theater screening Aurora, Colorado, 20012. 22 dead, 58 wounded.
Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech, 2007. 32 dead. Shooter commits suicide.
“The FBI found that education environments were the second-largest location grouping for active shooters, totaling 39 incidents at K-12 and institutes of higher education from 2000 to 2013” ( Washington Post).
Maybe if someone—a teacher, a parent, an Aunt or Uncle, or family friend— had intervened; maybe if these shooters had been treated or hospitalized, this terrible legacy would never have begun. Because sometimes, those who didn’t fit in during childhood, grow up to commit atrocities as adults.
Let’s be mindful not just of ourselves, but of one another, for yes, when it comes to mental health, we are each other’s keepers.
“Thinking in Mythological terms helps to put you in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell is one of my life’s heroes. The wisdom and insight that he gained though a lifetime of studying Mythologies from around the world has deeply influenced my thinking and perspective on life. In fact, it was his work that lead me to the grad school I am studying at, Pacifica Graduate Institute. Luckily for me they have all of his private library and archives of his personal papers!
Not everyone agrees with me regarding Joseph Campbell, usually you love him or hate him. Imagine that! In the tall Ivory towers of academia there are those who disagree with Campbell. The range of emotions begins with disgruntled scholars and runs the gamete through those who are dismissive of his theories, to down right hatred of the man. (They are, I believe, angry that he is so popular and he abandoned academia! When he found his passion and his advisors would not let him change his Ph.d. focus, he went off and followed his passion.)
Envy is a dangerous thing.
Within Mythology is the beginning of all stories. All narrative, novels, films, even the art of the pre-written cultural tradition of storytelling. It all begins with the Mythologies humans created or learned from the world around us. Mythologies give us an understanding of the world, the cosmos and our place in it.
If you haven’t read amy Campbell yet, I suggest you start with The Power of Myth or The Hero with a Thousand Faces and find your way from there. We are each heroes on our own journey to becoming fully who we can be. It is up to us to walk out the door and find the paths to follow, with passion and dedication. Each life is made of of many large and small hero journeys, and it is not all flowers and sunshine, but if you meet the hard times head on and venture into the unknown spaces, it is often there that you will find the treasure you seek.
Through mythology and it’s Archetypes, we can see that we are not alone. The course of a life has built into it– stages and rites of passage– that are both thrilling and terrifying- everyone who lives, must pass through them. It is truth of the human journey from womb to tomb. We are all in this together. The only question is, will you say yes to your adventure?