NEWS/FEATURES, Grades 10–12, Honorable Mention
In his “Last Lecture,” Randy Pausch, a college professor who created his speech while struggling with terminal cancer, stated many points to help people live better lives. Among those suggestions, he recommended, “You better decide early on if you're a Tigger or an Eeyore.”
When people choose a favorite character from "Winnie the Pooh," they always choose Tigger, or Pooh or Piglet, because they are the positive ones. No one picks Eeyore, because he’s always sad.
What Pausch is really saying is that you have to choose whether you want to be positive or negative. Technically speaking, you can choose what makes you happy and what makes you sad. But I think he was leaning toward the point that you need to be happy. Even in bad circumstances, you have to look at the bright side.
But there are some days when you can’t look on the bright side and those days shouldn’t be looked down upon. Just because Eeyore, or anyone, is sad doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be accepted.
Today, we deal more with mental health disorders, especially with teenagers. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other illnesses play a huge part in how one feels. Approximately one in five youths aged 13-18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life, and one in five adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.
When Pausch delivered his “Last Lecture” in 2007, mental health issues weren’t talked about as much. And when A.A. Milne wrote the "Winnie the Pooh" stories in the 1920s, mental health was ignored or even hidden from public view and discussion.
Living with a mental illness can be very difficult and sometimes you’ll find yourself acting more like an Eeyore than a Tigger. But that's OK because you don’t always have to be Tigger and you don’t always have to be happy. You’re allowed to be sad and have your bad days.
So many people don’t seem to understand this and expect happiness to be a constant mood for everyone. But we can’t just constantly be happy. People have so many complex emotions to just be happy all the time. They’re going to be confused and disappointed and scared and detached and frustrated and disgusted and more.
Most importantly, they will be sad, and when they are that's OK. Eeyores are a part of this world and they aren’t going anywhere. So just embrace them. They probably really need it.