Speaker urges students to think about their legacy and the words they use
What you say to someone and what they hear are two different things.
Know that sometimes life hurts, but it won’t hurt forever.
Find someone you can tell your secrets.
You deserve love.
Value your life.
Those are a few of the points motivational speaker and health educator Scott Fried packed into his two 50-minute talks on March 19 with Fayetteville-Manlius High School students in grades nine through 12. Mr. Fried’s visit to the school is part of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District’s preparation for the new state Dignity for All Students Act, which will take effect July 1. The new law will require school districts to educate students and staff to create an environment free of harassment and discrimination.
Mr. Fried talks about twice a week nationally and internationally on topics such as bullying, homosexuality, sexual responsibility and drug and alcohol misuse. In addition to his morning presentations at F-M, he was available throughout the day to talk informally with students and answer their questions. He will also give a talk tailored to parents at 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, in the high school auditorium.
“We are always concerned with how our students perceive themselves in the world,” said F-M High School Principal Ray Kilmer. “We want students to know that being who they are is okay.”
Mr. Fried told the F-M students about his experiences being bullied in school and college and how those experiences led him to question his self-worth. He believed the words of others, and at the age of 24, he had unprotected sex and contracted HIV/AIDS.
“The world gets reckless with you so you get reckless with yourself,” said Mr. Fried, who is now 48.
To combat hurtful words, people sometimes use reckless behaviors as a “weapon,” such as unprotected sex, cutting oneself with razor blades, not eating, bingeing and purging, drinking alcohol or using drugs.
They keep the behaviors secret and often tell themselves they will stop, that “this will be the last time,” Mr. Fried said. But the power of those negative words leads them back to the reckless behavior.
“We keep our secrets in our pockets,” Mr. Fried said. “You don’t talk about how you might be self-destructing.”
Adding to the confusion, people sometimes live in two worlds: their inside world – how people see themselves – and their outside world – how they portray themselves publicly, he said. Living in those two worlds can be a contradiction, which can be confusing and perpetuate the reckless behaviors.
People using negative words are likely hurting, too, causing them to lash out, he said.
“Hurt people hurt people. Happy people don’t hurt people,” he said.
Mr. Fried encouraged students to think about how they want to be remembered by others and what legacy they want to leave behind. He also urged students to find someone to share their secrets with, to remember that words can hurt others, and to value their lives as well as the lives of their friends.
Before ending each assembly, he asked students to repeat the following statement:
“I value my life, and I value my friends’ lives, and even though I make mistakes, I belong here because I am enough and deeply, deeply loved.”