Growing Up




Love & SexPre-K Valentine’s Day

5 comments | February 13th, 2012

2 hearts

(by OOC)

This is a cut and paste from an email we got from our 5 yo's teachers re Valentine's Day at School.  Why are we sharing a note from Pre-K?  Well, because we love it and we love it because, in our opinion, this is how we raise empathic, conscious, caring and loving children and people.   Let us know what you think in the comments below.  The lessons here are relevant - again, we think - at any and every stage of our lives.


We will have a Valentine Factory set up in the room next Tuesday! This special day is a celebration of friendships. Friends help everyone feel special and cared for.

During center time, each child will decorate a special bag for their Valentine cards and they will be able to make Valentines for family, friends, and any special people in their lives.

If your child would like to bring Valentine cards from home to pass out to their classmates please:

*Do not address each Valentine personally. This way your child will be able to pass out their Valentines independently.

*Encourage your child to choose Valentines suitable ...


6 comments | February 11th, 2012


(story submitted by Leah, a 17 yo Chestist)

While Leah's story is about cutting and self-harm, her bigger point - that the more we talk about what's considered taboo the less taboo it will be considered* - is an important one, and one that's always been at the heart of Off Our Chests.  Here's what Leah has to get off her chest:

I believe if we talked about self-harm as much as we made did and have teen drinking or even suicide, people might think differently about it and the people around them. The fact that it's considered taboo to discuss topics in public such as self-harm is absurd to me. I'm 17, and have been dealing with cutting for a few months now. I finally realized how much stereotyping goes into what people think about it and what other people do, such as self harm. I've realized that even the people closest  to me finding out was a source of embarrassment. I believe this is because no one will speak up and unveil the mysteries that surround self-harm.  {end story}

We agree with Leah...the more we all talk about ...

#lifestagesReady to Experience Love

7 comments | February 9th, 2012

Chestist typewriter 2

(story submitted by abbie, a 16 yo Chestist)

The stories you all send us here @OOC seems to go in waves.  Lately, we've gotten more than a few from some of our younger readers who've been through things no one should go through and who - despite being younger - have found themselves and inspired us along the way.  This writer, abbie, has found her voice again, and this is her story:

I may not have known it then, but I have a voice. I am worth something. Always have been. Always will be. He may have stolen my body, but I refuse to let what he did steal my humanity. I've spent 4 years feeling nothing but fear. I am ready to experience love again. No matter who you are or what has been done to you, I hope you are ready to experience love today as well. {end story}.

Abbie's story is horror-full and inspiring both.  No matter our age, being ready to experience love - whether again or for the first time - is hard work, whether it's self-love, romantic love, or, well, ...

#lifestagesCan You Fail at Growing Up?

comment | January 31st, 2012

chestist enthralled

(story submitted by Casey, a 16 yo Chestist)

We talk a lot about expectations here @OOC.  They can motivate us and they can smack our happy around like nobody's business.  Here's Casey's story, and all we want to do is give her a big digital hug (so we are). 

I feel I'm not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not popular enough, not funny enough, not smart enough.

I guess everyone in high school feels like this, but I guess I thought on the edge of sixteen I'd have something going for me. Instead I feel like a failure. I remember being in kindergarten and dreaming about being sixteen. I remember thinking that I'd be beautiful, top of my class academically, popular, and everyone's best friend. When I was really young, I was a beautiful kid. I was told that on a regular basis. I even tried modeling. When I hit puberty, that changed. I wasn't perfect anymore - and I've never gotten over that.

When I was a little kid, I figured that I'd always be beautiful and popular like I was in kindergarten. I forgot to take ...

#lifestagesStop Comparing Yourself

2 comments | January 30th, 2012

chestist swirl

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

It seems to be an unforunate part of the human condition that we compare ourselves to others - sometimes to make oursleves feel better, but often to make oursleves feel less than and worse.  Buzzkill.  Here's one younger reader's story - and advice:

We're always comparing ourselves with others. I don't know why we girls do this, maybe it's just the way it is. We never really believe it when people say were pretty or smart or something. When my friends or other girls complain about how fat they are I look at them and I look at me. A lot of times they're skinnier than me and I think - wow if they're fat then what am I? There is the first step of self conciousness.

Then when others bag on how ugly they are I look again and compare and think - well they're prettier than me so what am I? Everytime someone says something bad about themselves I ask myself if they're better or worse than me.  Eventually you stop believing what good things others say about you ...

Love & SexHigh School Romance & Lessons Learned

3 comments | January 27th, 2012

chestist blue

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

If you manage to make it out of High School in one piece it can be easy to look back on those loves, lusts, and infatuations and laugh at the intensity and future-of-the-world import they all carried.  When we're going through them though, there's nothing funny about it them all.  Nope, nothing.  Here's her story:

I'd had feelings for him since we met. We’ll call him Lewis. My sophomore year he asked my friend Nicole to homecoming after playing us both at the same time for a while. It was a slap in the face, so I asked him to Turnabout. He said yes, but then started dating a girl we’ll call Shelly, so I told him he could go with her instead. He then asked another of my good friends (Elizabeth) to prom, a third slap in the face, to hide the fact that he had been cheating on Shelly with my friend Claire. They broke up and, as you can expect, started dating Claire for real. I pretended not to know about the cheating because Claire is one of ...

#lifestagesSo Ugly

6 comments | January 24th, 2012

black explosion chestist

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

Quick...if you had to pick one, would you rather think you look good or have others think you look good?  This reader writes us with a (very) short story about how she feels. 

I just feel soooooooo ugly.  Whenever anyone says "you look beautiful", i just can not accept it. {end story}

Can you accept the compliments of others?  How about their criticisms - or just the observations that are less than flattering.  You know, like that blouse maybe doesn't go so well with your complexion?  Why do you think so many of us are quick to take critique as gospel and compliment as false?  Hmmm.  Let's #discuss.  


4 comments | January 20th, 2012

Screen shot 2011-07-27 at 10.17.50 AM

We first published this back in the early days of OOC, and just bumped into it again.  We thought it merited another passwith you, our new and larger audience, because so much of who we are today and how we feel about us, has to do with how our parents (often times our moms) helped us to feel...or not.

Sooooooo, did your mother teach you well, or were hers lessons you'd just as soon forget?  What?  Why?  Did your mom help instill self-resepct and self-confidence or self-loathing?  Was she happy with who she was?  How do you think that affects how you feel about you - now?  Moms.  Let's share.

#bodiesPuberty, Part 2

3 comments | January 18th, 2012


(submitted anonymously, by an 18yo Chestist)

You know that line from the Godfather..."just when you thought you were out, they suck you back in again"?  Seems this reader's finding herself in a similar position...

They're growing. Shit. Just when I became comfortable with my B cups and realized that they were in absolute perfect proportion with the rest of my body, they started growing. Holy shit. I'm 18. This is not supposed to happen.  {end story}

Hers isnt the first story we've heard like this, but let's consider it more broadly, whaddaya say?  Have you ever gotten comfortable with something and BAM it (or you) changes again?  When was it, what was it, how'd you deal with it?

#lifestagesUphill! In the snow! BOTH WAYS!

38 comments | January 17th, 2012

cloudy talk burst

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda) I have two comforting mantras as a parent, and I use either or both as necessary to keep me calm and away from the sure conviction that my children are going to end up as hobos, convicts, or otherwise as if their mama didn't raise them right. They are:

1) This too shall pass, and 2) Children are resilient. I'm a worrier. It's a gift. (A gift I have often tried to return, but I can't seem to find the receipt.) When my babies are struggling, I struggle. When they hurt, I hurt. And nowadays---with one teen and one nearly-teen---they have the audacity to be autonomous beings with problems I can't readily fix. Who authorized that?? Not me, surely. The bizarre corollary to this particular angst is that, while I agonize over true challenges my kids face, they are... hmmm. How shall I put this? How about like this: My children are (like most kids in their generation of similar middle-income families) rather soft. The things which they regard as tragedies are often ...

#lifestagesThe More You Know

61 comments | January 10th, 2012


(story by Mir, from I grew up in the 70s and 80s, which was of course the era of Very Meaningful After School Specials and the little "The More You Know" PSAs on television. (Also: "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" My smart-ass question was always, "But what if I want my eggs scrambled?") I attended middle and high school just as national phobia about the AIDS epidemic hit, too, which meant that I was subjected to year after year of watching middle-aged women---always someone a little stodgy, unflappable, and so unremarkable that we all felt positive she had most certainly NEVER had sex---come to an assembly for the express purpose of rolling a condom down a banana as a demonstration of How To Stay Safe. Schools were teaching sex ed with a vengeance, you might say. At least where I was. Plus, as I've mentioned before, I grew up in a household that very much believed that knowledge is power. My mother talked to me early and often about my body, sexual maturation, and all ...

#lifestagesBullied and a Lingering, Unshakeable Shame

3 comments | January 1st, 2012

chestist black scratch

(story submitted by Leah, a 22 yo Chestist)

Leah's story was actually submitted as a comment to this story.  We thought hers worthy of bringing to everyone's attention too.  We hope you'll get why we chose New Year's Day as the day for this less-than-feel-good tale when you get to the end.  This is her story shared:

The memories are too hazy to tell if there was a pattern of bullying, but that's what I assume happened. That's what my Mom says happened. There was always this one girl with whom I had some conflict from the very first days of elementary school. I remember sitting with two girls reading a book on the school bus. The one who owned the book pushed my five-year old face into a window and told me I wasn't allowed to read with them. Why? Who knows? Maybe I did something. Maybe I was the bully (probably not). I became a silent, insecure child who had a anxious Hell of a time trying to socialize. I was a loose cannon, ready to lash out at the slightest perceived insult, and ...

#lifestagesFailing Out

5 comments | December 24th, 2011

chestist sad

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

Just the thought of school is enough to make us run screaming into the night.  We didn't like it, and we didn't often do that well at it.  One of you wrote us with this and it seems she's having her struggles too:

I'm slowly failing out of school, little by little. My GPA is lowered enough that I'm going to lose my scholarship. My parents only tell me to get As and yell at me when I don't.

Getting a C is utter failure and getting an F is the most unthinkable thing. But I've gotten an F now.

The people in my real life never listen to me or ask why this happens, they just demand I do better. The only salvation I have is from internet friends who support and listen to me. {end story}

It's our opinion here @OOC HQ, that school's just not for everybody and that how well one does in school isn't necessarily a predictor of how well you're going to do out of school.  Don't get us wrong, we're all about education and learning how ...

#lifestagesFriends, a Love/Hate Relationship

1 response | December 16th, 2011

Chestist grunge

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

One of you wrote us with this:

I hate and love my friends. I love them because they are always there for me. I hate them because they don't quite understand why I need them so much, and sometimes they think that maybe I'm just being a bit dramatic.

I have an anxiety disorder, ADD and a bunch of health issues. They all compound each other. When I'm stressed, everything is worse. My friends are so good at making sure I eat with them before an exam, knowing I won't eat otherwise. But they don't get that when I'm left alone with my anxieties, they shake me too much to consider eating. My stomach is in my throat and I feel ill.

My friends are always willing to put something on hold to take me to a counselor for the first time or something like that, but they don't get that I'm terrified of going because I'm terrified of being dismissed. Or that the reason I need someone to convince me that my dreams aren't over because of one bad exam is ...


4 comments | December 16th, 2011

mean girls

(story submitted by RES, an 18 yo Chestist)

Bullying, digital, physical, out of control.  Has it gotten worse, or are we getting more intolerant of its intolerance?  Here's one reader's story:

I've always been teased or bullied, and sometimes I don't feel like I love or respect myself enough (or I'm not strong enough to stand up for myself) and so I let people take advantage of me.

It takes a lot to wear my tolerance/patience down, and it's become a problem. Even after my family and true friends tell me how proud they are of me and how much they love me, I have yet to love myself as much. I don't know what's taking so long for me. {end story}  

Have you - or someone you loved - been bullied?  Why; for what?  Maybe back in the day you were a bully?  What happened?  How's it affect you now?  What advice do you have for RES and anyone else going through this?  Why do you think it's so much "easier" to feel the wrath of the bully than the love of your friends?

And for any of ...