There are so many Honorable Mentions with this topic. Some work related like being selected and certified as a trainer to being Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year. Some personal ones too. But there is one moment that always sticks out when I am asked about this. This was not something that directly impacted my life like winning the lotto or becoming a father, since I haven’t done those.
Let me explain the scenario. Several years back when Demi’s career was really exploding, family and friends were all connected through Twitter. Twitter is not as private as you want Facebook to be since it is really a social media outlet that is based on 160 character statements or sharing a picture or video. So everyone was public. I started getting a lot of followers because of this. Tons of pictures with her mom, Dianna, who is my best friend. I was jokingly called “Uncle Richard” for a long time. I am not related, by the way.
One part of the whole Twitter experience is the mentions. That is where people can post things directed to your username. Demi retweeted something I tweeted to her and made my original tweet a “favorite”. What that means is that literally millions of people read what I wrote to her. So my “mentions” would blow up. People asking me to tell her things or people just wanting me to say “Hi” to them. It was surreal because I am a nobody. Like, why would anyone want me to say “Hi” to them? I am no celebrity.
It go to the point where some would spam me. That is where they will send you the same message and add a countdown number to it like “say hi to me. 1” “say hi to me. 2” and so on. I got to the point where I just had to say “hi” and move on. I tried to reply to everyone as best I could. There were a lot of people who were hurting like Demi was and wanted someone to reach back out or pay them some attention. If you have millions of followers you can never get to the literal millions of mentions. But I had a few thousand followers and just handfuls of mentions. It was easy for me to pop online and reply back.
Well some of the hurting kids started to reach out to me in the hopes I could pass along messages, which I really couldn’t do too often. People would tell me their stories and I would reply back with encouragement and advice the best I could based on my own life experiences. I would tell kids to talk to someone, a parent, a teacher, a preacher… anyone who could help them. Unfortunately there were some who were just using me to try to get attention from the family that I could not provide. Some people got ugly so I just stopped trying to help.
There was one girl from Germany who was messaging me and asking that I follow her so she could direct message me. I never did that. She was persistent but I just wouldn’t do it because I had a bad taste in my mouth from some people before. I eventually just told her to tell me on Twitter and that I would not do a follow so she could message me.
Now I felt bad holding my ground like that because it is not my nature to not want to help. Well she spilled her guts in a series of mentions and what she told me broke my heart. It was raw and it was real. I apologized for not allowing her a more private avenue to say these things but I think it was kind of like someone finally admitting a problem so they can address it.
She was a cutter. If you don’t know what that is, look up “self-harm” on Google. She was going through so many bad things from being bullied to family issues and was self medicating by putting a blade to her skin to cut her way to relief. It is a vicious and horrible harm. This is one of those things that takes lives daily. Do you understand? People die… literally die daily for self harming. This is real shit. I decided to write her back.
I just spoke from the heart and shared my struggles too. Talked about finding some good in this crappy word. Talked about getting help. Explained that good things happening would come her way and this horrible moment will pass if she gives it the time. We talked about the cutting and how I wanted her to seek real help so she could move away from self harming. I did all I could to explain that she was worthy of good things.
I did not know what else to do. I just hoped that what I had to say meant something and that she would stop harming herself and get some help.
Fast forward…. Now to the moment I felt most satisfied with my life. She eventually contacted me and told me that because I actually listened and took the time to respond, she stopped self harming herself and that she was focused on being a better version of herself. What I said to her mattered THAT much to her that she has not cut herself since. That is the moment. That is where I was told that I made a difference in someone’s life to the point where they decided to give life the chance it needed and live.
No award, trophy, certificate… none matter more than knowing someone is living a better life today because of something I did for them.