Growing up, I needed a night light in my bedroom to fall asleep. I was afraid of the dark, or rather, I was afraid of what I couldn’t see - the unknown. Now I’m 21 and I don’t even know what my life is going to be like in two months.
My life has been full of surprises in the past two years. Dropping out of a semester, going to Asia for three months, transferring faculties, dropping out of school. And then The Tipping Point sort of… happened to me. When I shared my story, thousands of people responded. And now I am a founder of an advocacy movement at UBC; I represent a community of over 1600 people who believe in better mental health support in academia.
I’m a risk-taker. So when I discovered that I could turn The Tipping Point into something bigger - a social enterprise - I didn’t look back and dove in. They say that the first step is the hardest and the most important. I do agree, but the following steps aren’t so easy either. The uncertainty of my future and my work terrifies me. I break down crying on a biweekly basis and self-doubt pokes at my shoulder every day.
Our fear of uncertainty digs deeper. Really, we’re afraid of failure. I’m afraid of taking the wrong steps and making the wrong decisions, resulting in disappointing people or wasting my time and energy. I constantly doubt myself. Who am I to take on this challenge? Who am I to start my own enterprise? To challenge the century-old education institution?
But if not me, who else?
Michelle Poler, the founder of Hello Fears, encourages us to think of our fears as opportunities, instead of obstacles. Instead of thinking “what is the worst that could happen,” she suggests we ask ourselves, “what’s the best that could happen?” Having gone through my lived experience of mental health challenges in academia, and knowing the stories of over 40 former UBC students who were also forced out of the institution for similar reasons, I need to try.
I am going to spend at least the next year of my life dedicated to The Tipping Point, in both the advocacy and the social entrepreneurial aspects. I am a mental health advocate and an aspiring entrepreneur. However, I would like to be transparent about my fears and worries as well. Healing, ambitious, determined, afraid, insecure, uncertain - that is me.