I’ve been there
Why I’ve chosen to support youth.
I spent the majority of my adolescence and young adulthood discovering myself and the world around me by challenging the status quo and taking the alternative route. For me, this included travelling to new places, volunteering abroad, back-packing across Canada and thriving on change.
"Connection is why we are here; It is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives."
I was pumped to take on the world with a sense of purpose to help change it for the better. At a young age I practiced social justice advocacy and activism; I even received the YMCA peacekeeping award when I was 20 years old. But, while I had all this passion and drive, I struggled with my mental health. I struggled with anxiety, self-esteem and being overwhelmed. As a youth I felt like I never really ‘fit in’. I felt disconnected. I searched for a sense of belonging, something I believe we all yearn for.
For a long time, I thought I had to seek out new places and new relationships in order to feel happy. It was a lot of work to rely on external validation only. It was also a pretty risky thing to give others the power over my own sense of happiness, especially when I was still learning about who I was and how to stand up for myself. I needed to learn how to put my own worth and wellness first.
I started to explore concepts such as self-acceptance, self-love, and self-empowerment. I began to develop a strong current and reflex of empathy in my connections with others and gravitated towards gentle and soulful people. By spending time immersed in nature, the greatest teacher of all, I strengthened a sense of gratitude and wonder about the connection of all things and the web of life.
I learned that being true to my values, expressing my unique gifts and unlearning those awful feelings of shame and thoughts of “I’m not good enough” that so many of us struggle with, would help me to feel more grounded and secure. I discovered that fitting in meant being okay with who I was. As it turned out, the places where I belonged and felt the most connected were actually within myself all along. I had teachers and mentors and support systems along the way that helped guide me in my journey.
I grew the most by allowing myself to be vulnerable and seen by my guides. Once I gained the courage to be vulnerable, I was able to more deeply connect with myself and learn new ways of being and doing. But I couldn’t have done it alone through those years. It was the support and inspiration from others in my life that made the quality of my life expand. We are social beings and we live in connection to ourselves, others and our environment. So why do we even try to carry this on our own? I believe we all need guides.