To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you.

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"Talk."

I'll never forget the first word I heard from that first call I made to the National Suicide Hotline all those years ago.

"Talk," said Gary, the hotline operator that I ended up talking to for four hours straight in the middle of the night.

I opened my mouth, but choked back more tears as I struggled to find the words. I cried and I cried at the one word Gary the hotline operator said to me.

Talk. That's the one thing that I hadn't done up until that low point in my life.

Talking was such a foreign concept for me after my mother died from cancer. I was 14 years of age back then. I'm an adult now (if you can even classify 20 years of age as "adult" nowadays), but looking back, I wish I could've opened up more before I called that hotline. But… it was just so hard to.

After my mother died, I moved to a new town, new state, and new region of the country. I was the new kid in town, starting as a freshman in high school. As a quiet new kid with no friends, I was practically destined to be labeled as a loner in school. And honestly, I was.

I'd enviously look at the other tables in the cafeteria and library where kids my age would converse with one another, carefree about real problems in the world. How could I be brave and talk to them when I was a new kid? How could I talk and relate to them when I had witnessed my mom suffering from cancer just a few short months prior? How could I relate to anyone who hadn't had experienced the major life changes that I was experiencing at the time?

The truth of the matter is this: No one should have to suffer from the pain of loss. No one should especially have to suffer from the indescribable pain of witnessing the death of someone who they loved and lost.

But I did.

Which is why I felt that I had to keep quiet. Which is why I sat alone at the lunch room tables. Which is why I kept to myself for a full year and a half after my mother died.

That is, until I reached my breaking point.

I nearly almost ended my life when I was a sophomore in high school. I remember the exact date and roughly the same time too that I almost did it. Almost.

It took me a while to reach my breaking point. It was gradual, by no way immediate should I add. But I reached it. To this day, I still can't believe that I almost did. Again, almost.

If it wasn't for Gary, I would've died the night I called the hotline. If it wasn't for Amy, another hotline operator I talked to for hours and hours a few years after I talked to Gary, I would've died back then too. If it wasn't for that one person on that hotline who listened while I talked, there's no way I'd be writing this right now.

I've experienced life in ways that the high school freshman-and-sophomore me wouldn't have dreamed of since those fateful phone calls.

I graduated from high school, which is an achievement that nowadays may seem to be "expected", but for me it meant a lot because my mother didn't get the chance to walk at graduation since she had me when she was a teenager. I decided to go to community college right after high school and recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with an Associate of Arts. And two weeks before I walked the stage at my community college graduation, I found out that I got accepted to my dream college with a full tuition scholarship…

My point is this: There's no way in hell I would've been able to experience life like this without someone who listened.

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you. Thank you for doing what you do, thank you for putting in the time and giving people like me - someone who has experienced tremendous life changing episodes in life - a chance to talk.

It's not easy to talk, but you are the ones who listen. Thank you.

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If you or someone you know who is in need of someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Hotline via 1-800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/phone-call-telephone-handset-dial-3179343/

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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Accomplish Your Goals, Don't Fear Them

You've set goals, now it is time to work towards them.

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Fearing something that has yet to happen wastes time that you could actually use to better yourself.

And that is exactly what I plan on fixing NOW and so should you. Yes, I do fear the act of growing but it won't stop me. Some days, it seems so hard just to keep going. You can have your long-term goals in sight, but yet you are questioning if what you currently have to do in order to get there is worth it.

Then I remember, nothing was achieved in the comfort zone. Everything I want is not where I am currently today. Rather it is located in places I have yet to tap into. I must get there. We must get there. To places that really push us as nothing has before. With this great push will come the tremendous growth that we need. It doesn't matter how long it takes us to get there, we just must keep going.

I am going to end by saying this: it's okay to be scared, but don't let it stop you. You have to find your voice even when it's lost among others no matter how hard it gets or how inconsequential you think your ideas may be.

Work hard to prove to yourself and others that you indeed can do it. Find your passion in life and run with it hard. Working towards your goals no matter what they are, will be hard. Yes, you will have success, but there will also be seasons of doubt. In those seasons, you must find ways to overcome them.

Imagine if you decide to stay where you were right now; would you be happy? Would you be happy and content with what you have accomplished? If not, work on fixing that. The time is now to figure out your hopes and dreams and work towards getting to that point. There are 24 hours in a day and today is the day to start making the change we desire.


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