Many adults have tried and failed for years to understand what tweens/teenagers go through as they grow up. Yes, they were once young themselves, but it doesn’t stop barriers creeping in. Ned Vizzini was someone who understood. Who are these kids supposed to go to? They can go to their friends, but they might judge them and leave. Parents would worry too much.
He didn’t talk down to his audience. He doesn’t try really hard to get on to their level, embarrassing himself in the process. What he did was write down his own experiences and comprised it into a novel. That was it. But he got it. He perfectly encapsulated what it’s like to struggle as a teenager when all the world wants to do is degrade you for your problems.
Oh, you broke up with your boyfriend? Grow the fuck up and you can complain when you have a mortgage.
You have acne? You’ll grow out of it, stop complaining.
Kids are picking on you at school? Try having a dead end job you can’t get out of with a boss that hates you. You feel down and wish you weren’t alive? Think of the people that have cancer, they don’t get a choice.
Our problems may seem minimal or not as important, but they are. When these minimal things happen to us at a younger age, how we are able to cope with them will shape who we become as human beings.
He opened up parts of himself that other people might’ve kept hidden.
He deserved more than what he was handed with. He was talented, humble, honest. Something we should all aspire to be. He helped and reached out to so many, but I don’t know if he even realised how much when he were still with us. Here’s some examples:
In the run up to Christmas, it’s easy to get snowed under with everything and forget about certain things. This weekend is the last weekend before Christmas, so, for my first year as being over the legal age to drink, I’ve been both working late, drinking after and drinking when I’m not working. Oh, Christmas.
Although, one thing that totally slipped away from me was the first anniversary of Ned Vizzini taking his own life on the 19th of December, 2013.
If those who don’t know, Ned Vizzini was a YA author, father, and husband. I knew him, of course, for the first aspect. I did not know him personally
, and now I never will. He wrote a book called It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, which is not only dear to my heart, but dear to kids all over the world who have at some point struggled with intense feelings that they feel are too difficult to handle. While the book is part fictional, part based on his own experiences, it still resonates.
I’ve already tweeted this, but I want to share it again because I really want people to see it. The date stamp is 2008, but I feel like it might be earlier. I’m not sure. It’s a spoken word/poem about the suicide of a beer. It’s haunting to listen to it now, but at the same time he manages to tackle this issue, this very prominent issue that lead to the end of his life and makes it light hearted. It has less than 400 views.
At the back of his books, he had a direct contact email address and he would reply to messages to those who reached out to him. He made the experience full circle, through the reading and connection of his book with the reader to then the subsequent conversation. Coming across this even now makes my heart sink to think that he won’t be there on the other side of that email. He also gave talks at schools and colleges, letting those who liked his writing come and hear him in an arena that was familiar and comfortable to talk about things that they knew and understood. I think having the opportunity for young kids to hear from people that they admire or connect to can be a very important, and sometimes life-altering thing.
At the very least, I hope he’s at some kind of peace at a place beyond lingering teenage troubles or worries. His words will continue to live on, and generations of kids that feel the exact same way that he felt will be able pick up his books and feel understood. I’ll leave this post with the last section from a It’s Kind of a Funny Story, because his own words do a good job of encapsulating his legacy.
“Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run Home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real now, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live. Live.“