Call for Submissions: June Blog Series

I’m currently accepting submissions for my June 2018 blog series:  “And Yet, We Belong”.

If you’d like to be a part of it, send 500-700 words to me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com about:

  • A time you felt you didn’t belong
  • How you navigated it
  • Lessons learned

The deadline is Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Not all submissions will be published, but you should totally send in something if you feel called to.

This can be about work, school, relationships, family, race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, nationality, etc.

I’m looking for honest and descriptive stories from the heart to impact others. Can’t wait to see what you send in!

Questions? Email me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com

 

To The Person Who Wants to Give Up Because Their Work Is Undervalued

So, no one is showing up. The retweets aren’t coming. Your inbox is empty. The callback never came. No one seems to notice what you’re sharing with the world. You feel like you’re wasting your time.

Only a few people have seen your work and said: “Well done.”  Others were confused or uninterested.

You seek more validation, but you’re seemingly insatiable. You await the moment when all that you do is considered credible.

What do your friends say? What do your co-workers say? What do your toughest critics say?

Somehow, what you believe about yourself doesn’t matter as much. It doesn’t hold much weight.

This process leaves you feeling isolated. Some of this is a result of you pushing away those who actually matter. Some of this is the sadness that comes with you concluding that you don’t measure up.

Let’s be clear about this. You’ve been working your absolute hardest for a long time. You’ve cried from the exhaustion.

There are stacks of dusty rough drafts no one is allowed to see. Some ideas are tucked away because they’re too outrageous, outlandish, impractical.

“This won’t work. And it if does, no one will like it.” Bitterness and hopelessness taken up residence. They appear to be permanent tenants.

You’re giving up.

You think back to that time someone told you that your work sucked. Maybe they laughed at you. Maybe they minimized everything you brought forth. Maybe they promised they’d show up, but they didn’t. It was just an audience of one: Disappointment.

Disappointment has been hovering over every single one of your creations. It muddies things. It renders you incapable of seeing all those other good and needed parts of you.

Because you are needed. Your work is needed. What you have to give is what you have to give. No one can take that away from you.

Alas, the most formidable threat to your work, the most challenging adversary to all that you will ever do or create, is you. Every time you pull back and keep your gifts, skills, talents, products, projects, music, cuisine, teaching, love, dancing, writing, anything from the the world, someone loses.

This is not to say that everything you do is ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. It is to say that the thing which you’ve put a lot into matters.

You have no idea of who is better off because you’re here. And, you don’t get to say all of what your positive impact has been on others.

You’d surely miss something.

You don’t truly get to say what your work can and can’t do, because you will never be able to read the heart and mind of everyone whose path you’ve crossed.

While you’re permitted to give up, quit, run away, hide, or shrink someone misses out on their blessing.

Every time you hide your light, someone loses. 

All of your fears, feelings, and reluctance is valid because hurt is real and harm is sometimes everlasting. Guilt nor shame have any place here.

This is simply a reminder: what you have to give matters so much.

I say all this with grace and love and openness, knowing that everyone doesn’t have the access and privilege and space to do all they wish to do. This is about all that you can give right where you are right now. Whether it be glamorous, or unassuming. Require funding or none at all.

I say this from the deepest parts of me because I too have wanted to give up so many times (and have) because I didn’t get the feedback I wanted. I didn’t get the response I thought I needed. I created and created and no one came. There have been times when I’ve set things up and no one showed up.

I can easily call back those feelings. At times, I still feel afraid of launching something new, sharing something I care about, or showing others my work. I’ve faced rejection countless times.

What’s often hurt most is feeling misunderstood and convincing myself that what I do isn’t actually useful to anyone. But, today, I’m sure that my values have been misplaced when it comes to this. My assumptions have been inaccurate.

I’m not here to share my light in order to receive validation. I’m not here to be the biggest change this world has ever seen. I wasn’t purposed to create just so others can show up and say: “Wow, that was just what I needed.”

To be honest, I don’t fully know why I’m here. But, what I do know is that there’s power in continuing to create, show up, and put out the best work that I can. Consistency got me to today. Consistency had me up at night writing this message to you. Consistency is what has made me a better husband, friend, writer, performer, supervisor, colleague, practitioner, speaker, Christian, human.

Not perfection. I’m wholly imperfect. Not fame. It’s fleeting.

Consistency: showing up again and again because all of this means something to someone, and it’s all so much bigger than me, and so much bigger than you. 

It’s worth it because at least one person will come across what I’ve made, what I’ve let flow through me, and will benefit from it. All that you’ve been given, all that you’ve worked for, and all that you have, isn’t just for you.

If you’ve been hiding the parts of you that could potentially be a gift to someone else, I encourage to set aside a few minutes and consider the following prompts:

 

  • What if my work – though rough, unfinished, incomplete – could help someone else?
  • What if all the bad that was said about what I create was only part of the story? What if there’s some good they missed?
  • What if I’m keeping a blessing/gift/invitation from someone else who needs it by holding back what I have to give?
  • Am I waiting too long for this thing to be perfect? 
  • What permission do I need to just push this out and see where it lands, fail, and try again? 

If you want to process this with someone, you know I’m here. You can reach out to me anytime.

I also encourage you to reach out to someone who does the work you do or makes the thing you make or is on the path you’re on. See what they have to say. Challenge yourself to open your heart a little and share something real. Then, actually listen.

This is what was on my heart today. I’m glad I didn’t hide it.

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#18: I’m still putting the pieces of myself back together.

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Depression. A lot of it is rooted in a very contentious custody battle that my parents fought for six years. I was put in the middle. Although my father was wonderful in a lot of ways, he often bad-mouthed my mother in front of me, and devoted a substantial portion of his time to telling me what a bad parent and person she was. He died when I was 16 and I went to live with my mother.

By this point, I viewed my mother as an untrustworthy, negative influence — at best — and I hated myself. I was – and still am – a lot like her. After all, she’s one half of who I am.

As a result, I held hostility towards my mom for a long time, which affected our relationship. Nearly 15 years later, I’m still putting the pieces of myself back together.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

I want people to know I’m in a lot of pain. I keep imagining someone saying to me, “well, you can just get over this” or thinking this is like, a personality construct to feed something depraved within myself or get attention. But only a person who hasn’t been clinically depressed would say that. I’ve often found the people who are so righteous and quick to judge are those who have no experience with this illness whatsoever.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I’m trying to figure out how to not let this incapacitate me. It’s easier said than done.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?:

If they have activities they like to do, support that (i.e. guitar, painting, gardening, etc.). Activities and hobbies can help keep a person in the moment, solely on the task at hand, and provide a respite from the pervasiveness of depression and anxiety.

I strongly believe that most people living with a mental illness want more than anything to feel normal. Judgments will serve as a reminder that they don’t feel normal. This doesn’t end well.

The person providing support needs to be an active participant in their own treatment. Mental illness has already compromised their agency. So, their job is to help the person nurture it, and there is no setting more powerful in which to do it than when discussing treatment.

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#17: I’m still carrying a ton of shame about it.

Photo by Luiza Sayfullina on Unsplash

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Anxiety with symptoms of dissociative disorder. I’ve been unable to get out of bed for the last couple of weeks.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

I’ve only been going to therapy for about 8 months now and honestly, I haven’t told anyone about it. My parents don’t know and I’ve mentioned therapy to a few friends but no details have been shared.

I’m still carrying a ton of shame about it and I worry that if I tell people, they’ll think I’m weak. I’m working on it, but my response to any kind of feelings right now is either to spiral out or completely shut down.

I don’t feel in control of myself.

I’d like people to know that I’m still me but sometimes I just need a little kindness that I haven’t learned to give myself yet.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I want to unlearn this philosophy of “suck it up and get to work” that I’ve been fed since I was a child. It makes it really tough to be nice on myself on bad days.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Just be open to listening to them. Even if it’s uncomfortable, just listen, don’t offer solutions, don’t tell them about some cousin of your’s who fought depression by going to the gym or having a baby or something. Just listen.

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#16: I’m learning to accept myself for who I am.

Photo by Katherine Chase on Unsplash

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Chronic Depression, General Anxiety Disorder and PTSD.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

It takes strength to live my life with ongoing mental challenges including: listening to my doctor and therapist, doing proper self care, and working hard so that my illness remains in my corner and does not bleed into anyone else. My goal is to be the best I can be each day.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

A mental illness left without treatment will control one’s life. I am learning to stop this control. I am different from other people and that is okay. I’m learning to accept myself for who I am with my illness.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Seek outside support. One cannot do it on their own. I spent a year in bed with my deepest depression. My family cared for me, but I had to be honest and start caring for myself. I was scared to get help. My doctor literally saved my life and brought me out of the woods. If your loved one will not get help, then the caregiver must get help for themselves. The support person cannot allow the illness of a loved one to rule their life. Resentment or being held a victim is not loving

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#15: It’s only a fraction of who I am.

 Photo by Moses Vega on Unsplash

Words by Gailen | Age 55

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Anxiety, Depression and mild OCD, with the occasional panic attack just for giggles

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

It’s only a fraction of who I am. It also is a wonderful piece of me. I am kinder, more thoughtful, more empathetic.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

Believing the crap my inner critic tells me.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Be patient, never tell to just relax, hold space for them and ask them what they need at that moment! Be non judgmental.

Follow Gailen on Instagram.

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

 

#14: It’s completely invisible to others unless I tell them.

 Photo by Angello Lopez on Unsplash

Words by Emily

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

I have PTSD from childhood which mostly manifests right now as hyper-vigilance, but which has also caused (and sometimes still causes) depression and anxiety at different times in my life.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

First of all, PTSD doesn’t always come from one traumatic event – it can also come from a sustained unsafe situation that can be harder to put your finger on.
But more importantly, my hyper-vigilance makes me really productive, acutely tuned to social situations, and constantly adjusting. In other words, it’s completely invisible to others unless I tell them.

People often think I really “have it together”.

It can be extremely isolating and painful to have a mental illness that’s invisible to others.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with? 

I want to unlearn that I am in constant danger. So, so badly.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

This is so hard. On one hand I want to say: please, please be patient. Please.
On the other hand I want to say: it is ok to kindly, gently (and in appropriate moments) remind me that my illness is affecting you. My illness’s affect on my loved ones is one of the biggest motivators to take care of myself and manage it.

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#13: Sit with me and wait until it passes.

Photo by Marc Steenbeke on Unsplash

Words by Gina | Age 22 

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Currently, I’m living with anxiety.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

If there was one thing that I want people to know about anxiety it would be that it’s different from stress. Stress is the negative energy before a test or if you just realized you have three assignments due tomorrow. Stress comes and goes and is mainly situational. Our society uses the term “anxiety” a lot of times when they really mean “stress.” There’s a big difference.

Anxiety (for me) is this constant state of energy. Think of a soda can being shaken constantly. That’s how my body feels all of the time. Like, I have all of this energy that just is bottled up inside. It’s similar to holding in emotions but more related to energy. Not energy to go on a run per say but like constant worrying, constant thoughts…similar to the consistent shaking of a soda can.

Sometimes I have to sit and just like refocus my energy because there is so much of it going in so many different places. Not like ADD or ADHD though because for me it’s more about weeding through so many emotions and feelings rather than other tasks.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

As I was writing this blog post, it reminded me to take my medication for my mental illness! Medication is an important part of mental illness for many people. For me, it helps me feel balanced with the rest of the world. I can tell within 10 minutes of starting my day if I forgot to take my medication because I immediately feel off.

To be honest, though, I’m unlearning the stigma that is behind taking “store-bought” hormones as some call them. There are times where I wonder if something is wrong with me because I have to take store-bought medication for something that’s “all in my head” so to speak.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

To someone who loves a person with a mental illness, the piece of advice I would give is to be patient. There have been so many times when I can’t be patient with myself because my anxiety is getting the best of me. When I’m in those moments, I need someone who will more than likely just sit with me and wait until it passes, because it will. Also, some fresh baked cookies or ice cream don’t hurt either. 🙂

Visit Gina Mariano’s Twitter

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downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage.