Accepting the Challenge

rachel scott, columbine shooting, high school violence, rachel's legacy, compassion

Hannah is a sixteen year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.

Two years ago, I arrived at school thinking that I would experience an ordinary day of arithmetic and language. However, I soon learned that it would be far from a normal day. On that cold fall day of my freshman year, my school had worked to receive a speaker for an assembly called “Rachel’s Challenge.” Based off of a dream held by the first victim of the tragic Columbine shootings, Rachel Scott, Rachel’s Challenge taught a lesson of kindness and compassion. Rachel Scott had a theory that she could start a chain reaction of kindness. On that fall day, my school became the next link in the chain.

Presenting an emotionally charged assembly, Rachel’s uncle spoke to the students of my school about the differences that hatred and compassion can make. The room was silent, as other students and I shed tears for the loss of Rachel, our loved ones, and regrets we held in our life. However, the assembly left us with a positive message: we could all start a chain reaction of kindness.

The effects of Rachel’s challenge on my school were immediate. The halls were quieter that day, as students reflected on others who they had hurt or insulted. As I travelled through the halls, I heard a student walk up to another and apologize for bullying him for months. A Friends of Rachel club formed as well, to greet new students, acknowledge teachers, and recognize good deeds. A mural is now painted in the hallway to serve as a reminder that we accepted the challenge.

That was two years ago.

Last month, Rachel’s Challenge returned, to teach the underclassmen and even middle school students the lesson I once learned, and to present to the upperclassmen “Rachel’s Legacy.” I was reminded of the challenge I accepted on that first emotional day, and reaffirmed my commitment by signing my acceptance of the challenge.

The return of Rachel’s Challenge to my school is accompanied by the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act – the strictest state anti-bullying law in the country. As my schools and others in the state work to prevent bullying in school and online through seminars and workshops, Rachel’s Challenge became an emotional base for the community. Parents filed into a community assembly, and left with a new goal to spread kindness to their peers as well.

Even two years after I first accepted Rachel’s Challenge, I am still personally affected by her message. No, I am not always a kind, perfect person. But I try to better myself and limit negative comments towards others. Furthermore, when I do insult someone else, I try to offer a sincere apology. Rachel’s Challenge inspired to include and accept even those different from me, and I would recommend to anyone who got the chance to hear Rachel’s message to listen. Little by little, a chain reaction of kindness can become a world of kindness.

 

Fixaholics: The Impulse to Save Others

perfectionist, people pleaser, compassion, control

There is a modern day affliction that is affecting many compassionate people. They are called fixaholics, people pleasers and savers. On a bad day, they can also be called martyrs, push-overs and weak-willed. Here are some examples:

1. Fix-a-holic Mom

(May also be known as Control Freak, Perfectionist or A-Type.)

Mom wants to make sure everyone is OK all the time. She senses tummy aches, has an eye for bad moods and somehow knows when a light bulb is about to go out. When something is wrong or someone feels bad she is the first there to offer a shoulder to cry on and offer solutions.

2. People Pleaser Teen

(May also be known as Over-Achiever, Toastie or Ambitious.)

Teen basks in the praise of parents and teachers. They strive for good grades and proudly announce high test results at dinner. They apply to prestigious competitions and load their schedules with impressive activities.

3. Teacher Saver

Teacher has an eye for students who have that extra potential but are being held back by an undiagnosed learning disability, abusive parent, bullying or an unstable home environment. Year after year teacher identifies and works with students who need saving. Teacher comes in after hours, stays up late at night and makes extra calls home to help this student in need.

All three of these types mean well, they want the best for those around them, however sometimes it can backfire or hurt those around them.

When It Goes Sour:

  • Martyrdom
Sometimes when people pleasers or fixaholics help and help and do not feel gratitude or equality in their relationships they end up feeling abused, taken advantage of and sometimes even that they sacrificed themselves too much.
  • Push-Over
Sometimes the types above can be seen as push-overs, weak willed or without a backbone. Students or kids take advantage of their generosity or do not appreciate how much the person has sacrificed.
  • Escape Route
Most of the time savers identify those who truly do need help, however, sometimes fixaholics do so much for others, that the other people in their life lose the ability to do it themselves. One teen I worked with told me he doesn’t even know how to set his alarm clock because after a while his mom just began setting it for him and then coming in every morning to wake him up.

Why?

I wrote this article because I think people pleasers and fixaholics are often unthanked and give up a lot of themselves for others. This can be wonderfully compassionate, but sometimes it can sacrifice a person’s true self and enable those around them to take advantage. If you are a people pleaser or know a fixaholic ask these questions:

-Who am I trying to please and why?

-Do I fix to stay in control?

-Do I ever feel like a martyr for the help I give?

-Do I wish people I help would be more grateful?