The older I get, the more I realize that money doesn’t matter. How many of you wake up feeling excited to go to work? How many of you get excited to get home after work because your day is finally over? I know many people can relate to that feeling. Work is stressful, and life is stressful. Trying to balance 1 million things at a time is so darn stressful, and then you’re expected to keep up family relationships and friendships. It’s not easy for anyone. I started volunteering in LA once a week and my life has really changed since I started volunteering. I love presenting talks and talking to kids about social media and mental health, but many of them don’t pay my bills, so I have to balance presenting talks like that while also making a living off of this. But if I could choose one thing to do all day long, it’d be talking to kids and interviewing people. Not simultaneously, but both in the same day.
When the team at Franciscan Children’s reached out to me asking if I wanted to speak to a group of kids in the mental health unit, I jumped at the opportunity. Having struggled personally with a plethora of mental health things and body image issues, I can really relate to what kids nowadays are dealing with. I can’t even image what it’s like with social media. The underlying pressure to be successful, thin, pretty, rich, cool, Instagram worthy, AND also get an A in school classes and be popular before you’re even in high school is common. That’s not the pressure I felt when I was in middle school, but I definitely know where the pressure kids deal with in 2019 stems from because I talk to so many young people. Parents don’t know how to handle the topic of social media because they didn’t grow up with Instagram and Snapchat, and it’s a completely different universe from what they’re used to. How can you expect people to know something that makes absolutely no sense to them? So who out there is talking to young adults about their mental health and making sure they’re doing okay? A place like Franciscan’s, which is why I was so pumped to spend the day there.
I couldn’t take pictures with any of the kids but I’ll never forget any of their faces, and I hope they never forget mine. We talked about how important it is to put your cell phone down and go outside. We talked about Snapchat and Instagram, and how those platforms make all of us feel. Some of the kids said happy and excited, and some of them said Instagram makes them feel sad and not worthy of reaching their goals. The neat aspect about Franciscan’s that is different from other “hospitals” is that they don’t even call it a hospital because they think that word is scary, and I agree! They’ve created such a community of staff and volunteers who live and breathe educating and helping people of all ages (primarily from birth to age 22) succeed in life and society. Just because you have a mental health something (I hate saying mental health issue, we all have issues) or you have a physical disability doesn’t mean you’re different. Sure, your struggles might be a bit different from mine, but in life we’re all the same and we are certainly all equal. I wish more young people new that it’s okay to be struggling: you will be okay and you are never alone. Your cell phone shouldn’t replace a friend or a stuffed animal, it should just be a fun addition to your life that should be used with caution. You will get through anything you are battling.
I encourage ALL of you to get out in the community and use your voice. Volunteer or spend a few days of the month helping people somewhere. Never do anything for fame or money, because you won’t get either if your intentions are wrong. I highly encourage all of you to read about Franciscan’s on their website and get a better sense of what this place is all about too- the experience truly shaped me as an individual, and I wish places like this were in every state and every part of the world.
Enjoy my gallery of pictures below from my afternoon!
A sign the unit made me!