By Takiya La’Shaune Smith
This past week, I sat down with yet another beautiful young lady to discuss the current state and mind-set of our female youth. This article marks the third and closing in my series dealing with teenage discussion, input and obstacles as faced today by our girls. Though only a small percentage have voiced their concerns and spoken up, it seems rather fitting to say that the community,widespread, has listened and heard. Letters, phone calls, social media and emails have made it evidently clear that we care.
“For My Girls,” a youth mentorship program focusing on etiquette, self-esteem and awareness, has successfully launched and has been quickly embraced by the community, school districts and surrounding areas, reaching even as far as Hampton County. I, alone, take no credit for reaching out but have chosen to take responsibility and initiate accountability and commend all those who have read, participated and committed to dedicate even a second of their time to ensuring positive input towards the future of all our youth.
During my discussion with a 15-year-old young lady who is very dear and close to me, we talked about what she felt to be one of the biggest issues among her peers: rumors. Having experiencing this myself, as a teen and well into my adulthood, I could relate to how serious such a small word could create such an epidemic in one’s life.
Here’s what she has to say about rumors and how they affect teens today:
“First off, not having someone that they can trust to talk to, open up and confide in is one of the biggest things going on. Most times, if they do have someone to discuss a personal issue with, there is really no real sense of trust. Some girls my age want to have friends but don’t know how to be a friend. Knowing when and who to talk to is all about trust. Learning to watch a person’s actions and routine is what can help them make better judgements on who to talk to. For instance, if a person is always talking about someone or telling other people’s secrets, that’s not someone you can trust. A good friend is someone whom you have never heard discuss another friend’s secrets.”
“A lot of times, rumors are started by the ‘so-called’ friend in which they confided in. Initially, I don’t always see the rumors being started as a means to hurt that person but more for the benefit of the individual who started them. They want to look cool or be a part of the in crowd or be popular so they don’t even think about the trust factor. But for the other person, rumors are very damaging and hurtful. I see a lot of people shut up and shut down because of rumors. It changes a person and can ruin their life. It’s gossip and gossip is bullying.”
“Rumors are started if you’re not liked, if you are liked, if you’re prettier than the person who doesn’t like you, if you dress good, if you dress bad, what you are wearing and what you’re not wearing. It doesn’t matter, and people will even come to ask you if the rumor is true but will still spread the word whether true or not. Word of mouth, not social media like Facebook, spreads rumors quicker than anything.”
“At my school the staff and teachers are very involved and do not tolerate any sort of bullying, gossip or rumors. At least three times a day and most times in one period, our principal will come over the PA system and start calling names to report to the office. You can hear the frustration in his voice and you know that some people have gotten into trouble for one thing or another. The teachers will stop a class to address the situation immediately.”
“For me, I don’t do anything special. I am who I am and I act how I want. I don’t try to attract attention to myself or fit in but I see so many people do that and it could be positive or negative attention. I talk to everyone and I’m careful to choose my words. I know what I can say to whom and when I’m talking to certain people I’m aware of the different characteristics and personalities. I chose what to say and how to be.”
What’s her advice about how to deal with rumors and overcome the negative situations they create?
“Don’t let people see that it gets to you. Don’t react because that’s what they want and they only do it for their personal joy. The more it affects you, the more they twist it and add to it. It’s a game to them so just don’t play along. People are going to be people but they aren’t the ones who love and care for you. Love yourself and those who love you.”
Takiya La’Shaune Smith, licensed cosmetologist, mentor and owner of Beautique Lash & Brow, is an author and beauty columnist promoting inner and outer beauty, self-esteem, preservation and awareness. Follow her blog at www.blb-boutiques.com, find her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TakiyaLSmith, email her Takiya@Takiya-LaShaune.com or contact her at 843-263-0426.