My favorite quote is one from Maya Angelou. It states: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you." I have moved through my career adhering to this mantra and it is one of the truest statements I have ever heard. My passion lies in two primary areas: 1) Empowering and Developing Women Leaders and 2) Promoting & Educating the masses on mental health wellness. I have been focused on my leadership work for the past few months as I embark on writing and publishing my first book on this topic. However, today I was reminded how good it feels when you are walking in your purpose and not chasing money as the goal. Coincidentally, the concept of how important “purpose” is happens to also be the chapter I recently completed in my leadership book.
This morning, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of about 50 or more students attending a local beauty school. I was contacted weeks ago by one of the site administrators. I was looking forward to the break from leadership discussions to pivot to my other baby, mental health promotion. I was asked to speak to help encourage those that may be dealing with mental health issues to not be ashamed and to be willing to seek help if needed. This was right up my alley. I woke up pumped!
My goals were simple:
1. Normalize the conversation about mental health.
2. Reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
3. Give the students resources they could use after was gone.
What I didn’t plan for was how much they would help me. I love working with adolescents and young adults, but this group was extra extraordinary. They were ub
er engaged, completely open to talking about their personal struggles, the stigma associated with having anxiety disorders, depression, and recovering from a traumatic event. We discussed the impact of social media on mental health wellness and spoke honestly about the role of religion, dysfunctional family dynamics, ignorance around understanding the science of mental health and the shame they have experienced trying to manage a mental health issue. These young adults were all for having this discussion and openly sharing with me and their peers very specific examples of their experiences. I was blown away by all of it.
I spoke with this group as if I had a personal accountability to each and every one of them. It was raw and unfiltered because they gave the same to me in return. I can’t tell you everything I said to them, simply because I don’t usually remember what I say after these moments pass. However, what I do remember are the faces of each young person that shared a story. I remember each person whose eyes lit up with validation after hearing, “you are OKAY”. I remember each face that waited to talk to me individually afterwards to tell me how they were personally impacted by our time together. I remember the person who said to me that I was a blessing sent to all of them. I felt humbled and saddened at the same time. We have so much to do to support our young people. They are smart, adept and willing to do the work to manage their mental well-being. We have to be available, willing to lend a hand, and teach our children about the importance of mental health. No need to wait until you are in the midst of a crisis or you are trying to understand what happened after the suicide has occurred. Help normalize these discussions, as our future leaders are depending on us to make it not be a shameful experience.
As I walked to my car, I made note of how my own soul felt. I sat in my truck for a moment before pulling away and thought, “So that is what it is like to be walking in your purpose.”
These talented and brave students believe I helped them, but little do they know, they blessed my whole entire soul and reminded me WHY I do what I do. I am working my plan and building the pieces to my business so I get focused on the logistics and process pieces a lot. Today I was pulled up from all of that and simply received a whisper and a gentle tap that reminded me, this is my purpose. Oh, what a feeling.