I have worked with "kids" of all ages for almost 20 years now. Working in the restaurant setting, the bar scene, on college campuses and now in haunted houses has opened my eyes to exactly how many different kinds of family units there are and how many people grow up in truly difficult situations. Some have amazed me, some have horrified me, some have just plain broken my heart.
I have mentioned here before how grateful that I am to have the support system that I do. My family (those I have by blood, by marriage and by choice) and my friends mean the world to me. They pick me up when I am down, even when they don't know I am down. They are there for the good times and bad. They are loyal and honest and loving. My groups is very diverse. Male, female, straight, gay, young, mature, sheltered and worldly; all different backgrounds, all different life experiences and all different ideologies. What they all have in common is that they care about me and I care about them. I couldn't ask for a better group of people in my life.
So what I would like to say to my young friends is very simple: you never know who will become part of your support system.
You will encounter new people every day. Don't discount someone because they are not like you.
That person you think is so different is living (has lived) a life you know nothing about until you take the time to ask.
It only takes one thread to bind you together on a deeper level.
Don't be afraid to cut the toxic people from your life, all they add to it is a lesson on how not to treat others.
Surround yourself with positive people, those who encourage you to be the best you that you can be.
Spend time with people from whom you learn, let go of those who only want to drag you down.
Stop and really look at your friends, your family,your acquaintances. You may be surprised to find out who is really there for you. Don't take those people for granted.
Most of all, share your lessons. Part of grown your support system is being that person for others.