Dear juvenile delinquent,
You have a lot of people telling you that you screw up. Your mistakes are named repeatedly. You have a million people making judgment on you. You are always and forever hearing adults tell you how you need to live your life. You’ve heard that you need to make better decisions so many times you’re probably numb to the same old same old. You know you made some bad choices. That’s why you ended up in jail or on probation. I’m not here to nag you to do better because you’re not good enough the way you are. It’s been 14 years since I’ve been the teenager in shackles. This isn’t a lessons learned blog to shove down your throat. There are just a few things I want to say to you, if you’ll lend me a listening ear with an open heart.
You’re lovable where you’re at. Cuffs, jumpsuits, criminal records, community service, reputation, addictions, drugs, and all, I’ll take you as you are. I’ll meet you where you’re at. You are more than your mistakes. You are still a valuable human being. I want you to know that somebody loves you for the package deal – good, bad, hopes, dreams, baggage, and bad moods, plus so much potential.
You’ve got some labels. There are assholes who will remind you of your past sins. So what? You may not be able to erase the labels, but you can add to them. Your label right now might be thief. You can change that label to “former thief”. Your label might be “drug addict”. You can change that label to “recovering drug addict”. Your reputation may be “no good” right now. When you go out and do good to others you become the person who positively contributes to society.
You’re worth investing in. I am going to tell you that you should change your ways. I’m not saying that though because you’re a bad person. I’m not saying that because you’re not good enough or smart enough or talented enough. I’m telling you to change your path because I think you deserve a better life than the way you’re living now. I want more for you.
Your current circumstances will not always be your situation. Someday sitting in juvenile jail dressed in a lovely (ugly yet comfortable) jumpsuit will be a memory from long ago. Life will not always be this way. I promise you better things in life are coming. You have no idea how great life can be. Give it time.
I know you’re in pain. I know you don’t want to talk about it. I know you can’t even put into words how much it hurts to be trapped in these chains. The emotional pain eats at you. You shut down to survive. You harden your heart to make it through this. You probably get angry a lot. You’re probably depressed. It’s okay to not be okay today. We all have scars. I don’t expect you to “get all better” and put a fake smile on your face. I can handle your tears. I know how much everything hurts. We won’t even go there. I know.
This will always be a part of you. You’re in the thick of it right now. You may be walking through a living hell right now. Or maybe jail is honestly a better place than your home environment. Either way, when you get older this will be something you bury. You won’t talk about it. Nobody ever talks about what it’s like to be in jail. You’ll move on with your life. There will be days that the chains come back. Accept yourself. Come to peace with your past. You have so much more strength than you realize. All the shit you’ve been through makes you a stronger person. You’ve got grit. You are a survivor. That survivor strength will come in handy as an adult. I know you can overcome whatever rough stuff life throws at you.
Your path is not set in stone. You can stay on this same path of jail and probation and probably drugs. You can continue to live that lifestyle, keep making the wrong choices, and give up on yourself. You can end up in adult jail and prison. You can end up dead. Or you can know that you deserve better and put in the effort to improve your situation the best that you can. You can never go to jail again. You can get off probation and be free. You can have any career you put your mind to. You can work hard to achieve your dreams. These things take time. I don’t expect an overnight change. And I’m far more interested in you having a change in heart than only a temporary change in behavior. I want you to know in your heart that you have beauty in you.
You are not unwanted. You are not unloved. I believe in you. I absolutely believe that you are a valuable human being worthy of love and respect. I believe you are capable of great things. I believe that every juvenile delinquent out there has good in them and unique talents and lots of potential. You are not a bad person because of some bad decisions you made in your youth. You’re worth helping.
Remember these things. I know society judges the hell out of anyone who has ever committed a crime or done drugs. I know socially things are hard. I know school is hard. I know you can only do so much before you are an independent adult. I know in some ways you are trapped right now and you just have to survive. I also know there will come a day that your life is very different. I want you to take these things and tuck them away in your heart. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Own your baggage. Chase your dreams. Set goals. Be the most beautiful, happy you that you can grow into. YOU ARE LOVABLE WHERE YOU ARE AT!