all the lights we cannot see
hey you shining humans
Today I’m going to talk about the mental health event I helped organize here at University of Richmond about two weeks ago. I’m still beaming from its success--but not just because we actually got a good crowd.
I’m pretty involved on my campus and I also make it pretty well known that I’m passionate about mental health. So, I jumped on the opportunity to help plan an open mic event to showcase the stories of other Richmond students who had struggled or were struggling with their own mental health.
I was terrified that no one would show up but I was quickly proven wrong when a large crowd gathered in the commons at the center of UofR’s campus. Then my next fear began to rage fervently: as an advocate for mental health and an active organizer for this event, I was definitely gonna have to share the piece I had printed and folded in my pocket.
What did I choose to share?
I chose to read one of my favorite, and coincidentally most popular, blog posts titled, Inside my head. It seemed to perfect to read at this event we chose to call, In My Mind.
With some encouragement of friends, I bolted to the stage before I could chicken out. I read the piece, hands shaking, and felt a sense of peace when I sat down. Mine was not the most poignant of contributions that night, but I felt solace being amongst a larger group of students just like me--those who struggle with figuring out their brains, too.
I wanted to write about this event because my friend recently expressed the effect that In My Mind had on him, and I couldn’t have said it better myself...
“As I watched each of you go up, it brought back memories from a book I read, called All the light we cannot see, by Anthony Doerr. This book is set in WWII times, and follows a blind french girl and a german kid joining the nazi youth.
You see how their lives are very different, and how they become intertwined. While the book has many themes, one big idea is clear in the title. I took this idea to be the fact that in our minds, we can often feel like there is no way out, we literally cannot see a positive scenario unfolding. This causes us to be trapped and feel like there is no hope. I even extend this too all the good actions we miss out on, while many bad things are highlighted in life, especially our own lives.
But after watching you all talk, express your stories and explain what you were going through something else dawned on me. I’ve seen half of the people who talked, walk around campus everyday, but the fact is, I really did NOT see them. When they were on stage, that’s when I saw them shine, glow, radiate, and thrive during a situation that I imagine to be very difficult. You all put yourselves out there and showed me so much courage. At this point, I realized that it’s not just the idea of hope that we cannot see, it was also people. Each of you were the light that I, and I imagine many others could not see. But, I definitely can see I see all of you now. I won’t forget that, because it really helped put things in perspective for me.
To know there are people out there constantly fighting, helps me feel more sane, normal and even more human. So, thank you for talking, and thank you for existing.”
So, to all of the lights we cannot see, thank you for existing.
→ To read the opinion piece I helped write prior to the event, click here.
→ To read the article covering the actual event, click here.