When I was younge,r I thought that kindness was an individualistic thing. I figured that I could just give what I thought others wanted and I would be handed a one-way ticket to Happyville. This thought process was drastically altered when I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It became obvious that what I needed, as everyone does, was the ability to love myself. Not only that, but I had to learn how to make deeper, more meaningful connections with people.
My struggle with mental health was something that turned into a campaign to let every single person know that they matter and cannot be replaced. At high school, it can be difficult to convey this idea, but I pursued my passions relentlessly. The fruits of my labor are the habits and traditions I have created to help teenagers. Every Friday, I show up to school with homemade treats and pass them out to those who seem to need a pick-me-up. I try to memorize as many names as I possibly can. I have started a club that gives students a safe place to express themselves and learn how to apply empathy in their everyday lives. On my personal social media account, I post weekly affirmations to inspire both me and my friends.
It is amazing how the very act of being noticed can change someone’s life. Adolescents often feel that their emotions are somehow “invalid” and their fear of vulnerability makes many of them shy away from real emotional connections.
As I go off to college this year, I will be working towards a degree (or two!) that will help me start a non-profit foundation in the future. My ultimate goal is to prove that the world is not a collection of unsolvable problems, but something that can be changed and altered by even the smallest of actions. Everyone can make a difference; but only if they believe they can.
Wow, Emily! In one of the most uninspiring situations---depression---you found inspiration to connect more deeply with yourself and your community! I'm going to remember your positive energy when I feel down.
Eleanor Stevensalmost 4 years ago