human kindness.

In a world where a human being can go to a gig and set off a bomb killing 22 innocent lives and injuring countless others, it can be difficult to believe in human kindness. Or maybe that’s just the pessimist in me. But the awful truth is that there are humans out in the world who lack empathy… who just don’t think about the people they’re going to hurt. Or perhaps they do and just don’t care. That’s probably worse.

I’m not just talking about people setting off bombs and using guns to shoot school children, though. I’m talking about the person who told you you’re not good enough, the bullies who called you fat and ugly, the partner who cheated on you. I’m talking about all the fundamentally hurtful things a person can do to another. The things that break people apart.

At some point, when you’ve been hurt by another person, it becomes difficult to distinguish who is kind. Genuine. Empathic. Understanding. It’s hard to distinguish the ones who want to hurt and the ones who hurt by mistake. And then something small happens that restores your faith in humanity.

I know that’s a loaded phrase: “restores your faith in humanity”. But it seems apt in the world we currently live in. Where there is endless suffering from one end of the earth to the other. Where even the earth itself is suffering because of things like greenhouse gases. In this state of chaos in which we currently live, even the smallest of gestures can do just that: restore your faith in humanity.

I’m lucky. I don’t shy away from admitting that I live an extremely privileged life. There are people around me who support me. Resources I can turn to when I need them most. Finances available to me because I have lived in countries that are among the wealthiest in the world. Despite being an ethnic minority where I currently reside, I don’t fear for my life. And yet, difficulties arise.

In comparison to others, my difficulties aren’t even a blip on the radar of global issues. But we live in a world where we compare ourselves to those who are most similar to ourselves, and in that world, we all have hard times. It’s like the common saying goes: “There’s always someone who has it worse off than you”.

Today sucked in my world. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve had worse days. We all have. But customers at work were driving me up the wall, I was experiencing knee pain, I was tired, I was hungry. Small things but, they add up nonetheless in my world. And then that small gesture.

I’m aware that this post may sound insensitive. It may sound overly privileged. Like I’m complaining about “first world problems”. But that phrase was coined with good reason. I live in the first world. My problems are indeed first world problems. But they’re still my problems. And today I needed a small gesture to get me out of my constant state of rumination and anxiety. Luckily, I got that.

To the human beings who make the gestures, big or small, this is a thank you. Because despite my pessimism and my anger and my anxiety, you remind me that there are still good, loving human beings out in the world.

At this moment, there are 6,470,818,671 people in the world. Some are running scared. Some are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just now facing the truth. Some are evil men, that war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. 6 billion people in the world. 6 billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one.
-Peyton Sawyer*

*Yes, I’m aware this is a One Tree Hill quote. Sue me. I like teen dramas.

feeling small

Everybody has those days: you wake up and you just don’t want to face the world. There is too much chaos and destruction around you. You’re afraid that if someone so much as even blows on you, you’ll topple over. The alarm going off is begging you to turn it off so you can go back to hiding under your covers.

These are the kinds of days that make me feel small. I am vulnerable, fragile, a thing that needs taking care of. Back when I was a child, that was my mother’s job. As mothers do, they coax their little ones out of bed, make them breakfast, give them a little push out the door and say, “Have a good day!” And it’s comforting to know that someone believes you can face the day.

As an adult, there’s nobody to hold your hand. You’re the one that has to push yourself to brush your teeth, eat, shower, get out the door. You’re the one that needs to tell yourself to have a good day, to do the best you can at whatever you do and just simply make it through the day. It’s your responsibility. To those depending on you at work or college, to the community, to yourself.

I think I’m currently in a state of Peter Pan syndrome. Afraid to grow up. And though I’m no longer a child and I don’t live anywhere near my parents or my family home, it still feels like I’m that small.

Honestly, responsibility scares me. I reminisce about days when my only problems were whether to go down the slide or on the swings. When homework was to write a hamburger paragraph as opposed to a 10,000 word literature review. The age when I felt carefree, happy, unconditionally loved.

That’s not to say I don’t feel those things now. I know my family loves me, I have an amazing group of friends, there are blissful moments of carefree action and I’m generally quite happy nowadays. But, it’s easier to feel those things when you aren’t stressed about your next big assignment, what to cook for dinner, money, relationships. And I yearn for that feeling; and when I do, I feel so small.

I think, ultimately, it’s important to feel small sometimes. Otherwise our level of healthy narcissism turns pathological. That doesn’t make it any easier or more comforting though. Feeling small is incredibly difficult. And it comes in different forms for each person. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge when you’re feeling small. Vulnerability is tiresome and frightening but, it can teach you a lot. Or so I hope.

#BellLetsTalk

We all know what this day means. It has been years since Bell first began this initiative and it picks up steam every year just before the big day. Then the day comes and people use the hashtag all over social media and everyone using Bell as their service provider sends more texts and calls more people than they ever would on a regular day. Which is great. Every 5c counts, right?

That is true. It’s great. This day marks a day where almost every person is concerned about mental health. Or… feigning concern. At the very least, they’re contributing donations to mental health initiatives. But like I say every year, it’s just one day. And the talk about mental health has a way of disappearing after that one day.

Just over a year and a half ago, I became a mental health professional. I never thought the day would come where I actually get to help people who are struggling but, here I am, doing it. And as a psychologist, I get to do so much more than that.

I get the privilege of hearing unique and heartbreaking stories. I get the privilege of being the first person they come out to. I get the privilege of watching them cry because they feel so hurt.

I also get the privilege of seeing them walk a little bit lighter on their feet at the end of a session. I get the privilege of noticing the first time they uncross their arms. I get the privilege of advocating for them when they need it.

Mostly, I get the privilege of being there for them. Of helping them hold all their hurt. And sometimes, that’s all they need.

The phrase, “I’ve never told anyone that before”,  is pretty common in my line of work. Through all the crap clients are trying to get through, they also have to deal with feeling like they can’t talk to anyone. Because that’s the stigma of mental health. It makes us cower… hiding our “worst” selves for fear of rejection.

Today is about breaking that stigma.  About letting our demons roam the earth with us. About letting the people in our lives help us fight them off.

As I do every year, I urge those struggling with mental illness to talk to somebody you trust. Even a little bit. A friend, your parents, siblings, a teacher. It makes a world of difference just having one person know.

And for those who might be doing just fine right now, check on your family and friends. If you notice someone seems off, ask them about it. Even if you don’t, ask them. I know it isn’t usual to ask someone “How’s your mental health lately?” but, maybe it should be usual.

Mental illness isn’t afraid to take control of us. Not in the least. So we need to take back control. Do your part today. Be a human being and talk to someone. And listen. And tomorrow, keep doing the same.

#BellLetsTalk.

Fernweh.

I’m a perpetual wanderer. Or so I’d like to be.

Travel, as you may well know, is a huge part of who I am. I love to explore new places, discover new cultures, experience new parts of myself. All the cliché things that those who travel often say.

Yet, lately, I haven’t so much experienced my usual wanderlust but, rather, something the Germans call Fernweh.

It’s a bit like wanderlust, you see. A longing to travel, to wander off to the far off places, to explore the places you’ve never known. The key difference though, lies in the felt nature of the words.

From my understanding, Fernweh encompasses all that is wanderlust… with the caveat that the longing is more of a homesickness.

How can you be homesick for a place you’ve never been, you ask? If only I had the answer. Somehow though, I’ve felt this feeling.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pining for a little place called Portland, Oregon. Ah yes, the so-called hipster capital of America. Where food is farm-to-table. Where there are bike paths everywhere. Where there is over 10,000 acres of public parks.

I’ve never been to Portland. And sure, it sounds picturesque but, if I’m being honest, I’m not exactly the “highly walkable city” type. Nor the farm-to-table type. Nor the hiking-every-chance-I-get type. Not to say I don’t like the sound of an environmentally conscious city but, it’s not exactly my passion.

But here I am, experiencing Fernweh for Portland, Oregon. I miss the city. Truly. I couldn’t tell you how that’s possible but, I have this insatiable yearning to return there. Like I’ve been there before.

Our minds are funny things. They play tricks on us all the time. So maybe this is my mind playing an early April Fools on me. Or maybe Fernweh is real and I somehow feel homesick for a place I’ve never been.

Now, who wants to go to Portland with me?

 

My Trending Stories.

Dearest lads and ladies,

I’ve been asked to be a contributing writer for My Trending Stories! Excitement ensues. I’m just starting out but, my content will feel very familiar to all you lovely humans who follow me on here.

I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to streamline my content so, for now, I’m posting where it feels right. I’ll still be using WordPress and I will be posting different things on each site.

If you care to see those articles, here is the link to my profile page over there. And I hope to see some of you there with me!

Thanks for keeping up with me xx