I started my TWLOHA Chapter a year ago today.
None of it has been easy. And there are more struggles than there are happy moments, but of course it’s all worth it. I’ve already talked to over 800 people telling them what TWLOHA is all about. I’ve learned a lot about being a leader, and that’s the type of learning experience that never seems to end.
The small things always seem to be incredibly validating. It’s nice to be in the library and have the student worker (a completely stranger to myself) compliment me for MC’ing our TWLOHA benefit concert. (This happened yesterday.) And it’s also incredible that people are still talking about PostSecret. What really moves me the most, though, is seeing people in tears after the events and the meetings that we have, and not to mention the occasional supportive emails.
I have witnessed stigma against mental health firsthand on several occasions through promoting the chapter on campus. I’ve also seen how hard it is for some people to engage in a conversation once you mention depression and suicide. More than anything, I find it incredibly strange how some people are quick to point blame to the lacking mental health resources in the states, and still do nothing at all, in some small way, to show support for the mental health efforts that exist in their own college community.
In the end, though, that first TWLOHA conference changed my life. I’ll never forget that weekend in Chicago. This was just a vision I had in boarding school around 3 years ago, and it’s been nice to see things develop into what they are. We’re still not done making our mark here. We’re just getting our foot in the door.
“You don’t ever have to feel guilty about doing things that make you feel happy and empowered…It doesn’t matter whether people disapprove or misunderstand. It doesn’t matter how good you are, and it doesn’t matter how much time it takes. If something soothes your soul and makes living more manageable and meaningful to you, it’s important and worth pursuing. You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to do things that make you come alive.”