The other night my sister shared a really cool video with me from a YouTuber by the username ‘Footless Jo.’ It talked about visible vs. invisible illnesses. My sister didn’t think the video expressed anything revelatory, but that it held good observations, and a desire to help encourage community change and how people act and react.
Another video from ‘Footless Jo,’ which includes a concept many of us may be wrong about including my sister and I, also held some useful observations. It touches on the thought processes of ‘don’t compare trauma to other people’s’ negative psychology argument, and how actually ‘what doesn’t work for you might work for others,’ and ‘sharing your story is what matters.’
Having now spent another couple of months in my current job I have learned sharing the different parts of our story, in context, and with the right audiences i.e. not triggering others or sharing “war stories” with the aim of one-upping each other, can serve as mighty purpose.
Expressing emotion healthily, both that which is widely perceived as ‘good’ and that which is widely perceived as ‘bad,’ offers more of ourselves others can relate to. This can help reinforce the reassuring knowledge we are not the only one feeling a particular way, even if the reasons and the experiences we have are vastly different. (Which they will be, because we are all unique.)
Part of the reason my sister likes Footless Jo’s channel is that part of the premise is sharing the reality of her story so that other people can relate, not just what might be readily seen from the outside; the story of the ‘inspirational amputee.’ Because there is so little of the ‘bad side’ shared, people think they have to suppress, or shouldn’t feel particular ways, or shouldn’t share. When, in fact, more people probably share our reality than we know, and not feeling like the only one, or so isolated, or alone, or ‘wrong,’ is super powerful.
We’re all human and it’s ok to be human. Or, on the days we don’t, it’s ok to feel however we do. We all make mistakes, or have things happen that are out of our control, we don’t know how to process and need to figure out how to do it.
There’s so much pressure today to ‘have it figured out.’ What is the ‘it’ we’re talking about here? What does having it ‘figured out’ mean? A lot of people have forgotten – or never learned – _how_ to figure things out, which is a process that takes time and may take several tries, and may require help to do. Sometimes this starts with things as simple as learning how to live together in a positive way. Be a flatmate, not just a person who lives at your house. Give to others to make things better for the whole. Live the reality by showing rather than simply telling it.
I was reminded of one of the best philosophies to live out by our landlord’s father, a very capable handyman and a caring soul: “Leave something better than you found it.” Opinions, attitudes, perspectives, emotions, as well as the more tangible physical space; the earth, your house, parks and other public spaces. It is so true this can apply to mental and emotional concepts as well. It is a good insight that has been shared with me that I pass on when appropriate. Something we can forget is that it applies to how we ‘leave ourselves’ after a particular interaction, as well as others.
Another lesson I am consistently learning from my work, is that sometimes improvement may only be small. It may not be as big, or noticeable, or as ‘good’ as we think it should be. But what has changed is better than what was before, and sometimes that is enough for now. Bigger change is part of a longer journey and that is ok too. Acknowledgement of progress, and that progress may not have been what we thought, is an important step in maintaining our mental wellbeing.
Even a little bit of growth is growth. Small still matters. Growth is motion, and forward can be a direction we didn’t think it was when we started. Own it, and progress that way.
Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear reader. Peace.