So when I decided I wanted to start a blog, my main reasoning was just to be another voice in the fight against the stigma of depression. I grew up having my emotions muted and rejected, and have just recently —within like the past 5 years— started finding my voice and learning how to work through the things that I feel. On this blog, I’ve been pretty open about my sessions with my therapists that I’ve had, as well as some of the struggles with having gone off and back on my antidepressants. It’s a pretty cool thing that I think has definitely exploded with the advancement of technology and social media; people are actively sharing their own struggles in hopes that someone can relate and realize that they’re not alone in the struggle, that that help is available, and that seeking help is a not a sign of weakness. With the current state of our society in the United States, I’ve been teetering the idea of being a bigger voice for much more than just mental health.
So, everyone that knows me knows that I live a very unconventional life in many different ways. Now that I have the time during my winter-long hiatus from my managing job, I’ve been focusing a lot on learning more about myself and all of the different things that make me a really interesting person —because, let’s be real, I’m a weirdo. One of the biggest things I’ve been educating myself on is race relations in our country and world.
I grew up fairly privileged as far as treatment of African-Americans goes. I’ve admittedly been relatively ignorant about many things that affect many black communities across the country. I always lived in a fairly decent neighborhood, went to good schools, and have many positive role models within my own family, especially on my mom’s side. I’m truly blessed to be living the life that I’ve been given. But as I grow older, I’m realizing more and more that —not just as a woman of color, but as an American— it is my responsibility to educate myself on the injustices of the world.
I recently realized that I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP), and possibly also a true empath. This was NOT AT ALL surprising to any of my friends that I told, nor to my therapist, which is actually hilarious. A friend literally responded to my text about my theory about me being a HSP with “Ya, I’d agree, I just thought you’ve known that for a little while now.” I feel things at a much deeper level than most people, and that realization made soooooo much of my life make a lot more sense.
As a HSP that just realized that she was one, many of the things happening in the world right now are hurting my soul to the core. I’ve realized that I’m in a position right now where I
can NEED to be an advocate for empathy and compassion. I’m at the point in my crazy thoughts and my crazy life where this no longer feels like a calling, but a duty. A duty to represent where I can.
The representation of mental health issues has been a game changer for our society over the past few years. So, why do some white people not realize the positive things that can come from more representation from minorities? I read this article about representation a little over a month ago. It’s a good read. “Knowing there is a lack of representation, at times, colors the consciousness of the few privileged underrepresented minorities that end up on a path toward a bright future.” That sentence obviously resonates quite a bit with me. Then I read some of the comments, which is always, ALWAYS a bad idea for anyone other than those close-minded internet trolls. Here are some of my favorites that I screen grabbed before giving up on the comment section and the entire internet that night.
The human mind is incredibly malleable, especially the minds of children. I watched the documentary ‘Teach Us All’ earlier today and ’13th’ last night, and they made very good points about how the way our education system and entire country is set up, negative ideas can easily be planted in the heads of minority kids about their life potential. ’13th’ is an extremely heavy documentary with so much true American history revolving around the 13th amendment, with most of these facts not being discussed in the insanely whitewashed history that most schools are teaching. I learned an incredible amount of things about the true past and struggles of my race. One good thing about those struggles of my ancestors is that, as a whole, we’re a very resilient race as long as we, as individuals, can survive the hard times and rise above a system that was built to make us fail.
I’ll be the first to say that representation is not necessary. My life is proof to that. I’m possibly the first black female to attain my level 3 certification as a snowboard instructor (there’s actually a lot of research going on right now to determine that). Although I’ve had many instructors that I admired and looked up to in my 15 seasons as a shred coach, I never had anyone that looked quite like me. I looked up to a lot of professional female riders, since women were (and still are) fairly underrepresented. But once the first black female professional snowboarder, Gabby Maiden, hit the scene, you better believe I quickly felt inspired at a whole different level.
So many things that I enjoy and have done in my life are not only underrepresented on the basis of race, but also just me being a female. I’m a black woman living in a ski town that is predominately white and predominately male. When I go downhill mountain biking on the mountain, it’s rare to see other girls out there. Same with fly fishing. Back when I still lived in Columbus and would go to a lot of rock (as a basic genre with many different sub-genres) concerts/shows, you’d rarely see girls in the mosh pits, let alone a skinny black girl raging her face off and taking the hits like a champ. Because of the way I’ve lived and continue to live my life, I feel as if I’m in a weird position where I can’t not step up and represent many of the things about me that make me the unique weirdo that I am, whether that’s based on race, sex, mental health, empathy, being an INFP, or the fact that I have nontraditional jobs in this nontraditional, yet wonderful town in which I’m thriving.
I’m still struggling a bit with the confidence piece to all of this, and I’m sure there will be a future blog post about it. My current therapist has been telling me for a while how powerful my mind is, how much I naturally inspire people, and how I just need to find my voice and share it. I guess now’s the time….
Follow my public Instagram account @niadoesthings… because I do lots of things.