Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 1:53 am | Fair 58º


Louise Palanker: Inclusive Student Speeches, Struggling with Depression, Girlfriend’s Dreams

Question from Corine

The school year is coming to an end, so I’m writing a Student Farewell Speech (I’m in eighth grade, and we’re graduating middle school).

I plan to start it like this: “I once asked my friend how she would describe our grade. She answered, ‘eighth.’” I wanted to see if I could include her name in it, so I emailed my teacher, and he said, “Sure. Just try to be inclusive.”

I’m really confused and I don’t know what he means by “being inclusive in a student speech.” Can you please try to clarify and help me understand what he means as inclusive in a speech? Thanks.


Sure. I went to my nephew’s high school graduation and the speaker was a kid named Khalil. His speech was inclusive and brilliant! He mentioned at least 20 kids. He was poignant and hilarious. Everyone who heard their name felt very included.

I’m not sure if Khalil received the same advice as you did or if he just knew that these shout-outs would be warmly received, but I believe that this is what your teacher means.

For example, if you begin your speech as you suggested, you would say, “I once asked my friend (her name) how she would describe our grade and she answered, ‘eighth.’” (Pause for a laugh because it’s a funny line and laughter will ensue.)

You could then go on to say, “When I asked my teacher if I should use (friend’s name), he said, ‘Sure. Just be inclusive.’ I am not exactly sure what that means. Hmmm. It may mean that I am supposed to mention people by name .... (pause) When I asked Mr. (his name) about my speech, he said, ‘Sure. Just be inclusive.’” (Pause for more laughter.)

Tell stories. Mention people by name, as long as they will find the story and the mention sweet or funny, or both. Don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Enjoy the moment. It’s an honor to have been chosen to speak at your middle school graduation!

And YouTube is a wonderful thing because look what I have discovered: Khalil’s commencement speech!

(Edric McSween video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Jessica

Hi! So, I’m currently struggling with being in a depression. It is one of the worst feelings because it feels like you are never going to get better. I was also diagnosed with anxiety.

So in general throughout my life (I’m 17 and a junior in high school), I’ve been shy. Because of the anxiety and depression, it makes me more shy because I am constantly bringing myself down. I compare myself to others, which I know is really bad, but I can’t help it and that brings my confidence level down even more.

I overthink every little thing; like if I text someone and they take a long time to respond, I’ll automatically think that the person hates me. I’m a healthy weight for my height, but every day I look in the mirror and tell myself that I look fat. And in the hallways there are so many people who just make me so self-conscious about myself.

I had to unfollow all of the models that I followed on Instagram because looking at them made me feel so bad about myself. How should I combat this? Thank u!


Unfollowing models is a good start. Models are probably even more anxious than you because their commodity is their physical appearance and that can be extremely stressful.

We are all so much more than how we look. Every person is a grand symphony of thoughts and feelings and ideas and wisdom and philosophies and talents and gifts. You are just so many different things. If you feel judged — and we all do at times — remind yourself that the person doing the judging has as many insecurities as do you. AND the person doing the judging does not know everything about you.

AND ... most important, you are probably not being judged at all. People are busy, and most of the time when someone does not get back to you it has more to do with them than it does with you.

Yes, you need friends and you need to feel that you are a part of a community. But if one person is not into responding or hanging out, you can look elsewhere for the companionship you seek and deserve. You don’t just NEED a friend. You ARE the friend whom someone else needs. Find the right fit. Focus on making someone else feel more comfortable.

If you feel depressed and anxious, get help. The confounding thing about depression is that it takes place in your mind, leaving you with no ability to imagine an escape from your sadness. Depression is like being stuck in a hole. You may know that there is a world out there but you can’t see it so you don’t believe it.

Click here for help from Teen Line, or call 310.855.4673 or text 839863. There is help waiting. You will feel better.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Connor

So my girlfriend and I have been dating for five months, and I trust her. However, she had a dream about this person giving her a hickey and this person is someone on whom she used to have a big crush. Today she’s hanging out with that person ...

She tells me she didn’t know that this person was going to be there, and I shouldn’t worry. She says she feels nothing for the person, but I don’t know. I feel otherwise.

Am I wrong for being mad?


No, you are not wrong to be mad. First of all, our emotions are never right or wrong. They just are. You should always tell your girlfriend how something makes you feel. She confessed having a romantic dream about this guy. She used to have a crush on him. She is now hanging out with him. That is a troubling chain of events. Anyone would feel hurt, worried, jealous ... a lot of emotions.

But my first red flag is that she told you about this dream. Either she is trying to make you jealous or she is clueless, or both. We all have romantic and/or sexual dreams about a variety of people we are not currently dating. That’s just how the human psyche operates.

If we ARE currently dating someone or married, we don’t tell our partner about the dream! There is no point to that. It would only inflict pain. I’m guessing that you have a lot of dreams you don’t share with her. They do not mean that you are about to cheat. That’s first. Now, on to what is happening ...

Why is she hanging out with this person today? Can you join them? Have a conversation with your girlfriend where you express your concern. Do not accuse her of anything. Don’t put her on the defensive. Let her know how you feel. Give her a chance to reassure you and help you feel loved and safe.

If that does not happen, then she just may not be someone who is able to make you feel loved and safe. You deserve both of those things within a relationship.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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