Finding Community and Happiness in Helping Others
By Makilah, a 17-year-old Teen Link outreach specialist and recruitment committee member
The idea of channeling your pain into helping others may seem complex at first, however it is simple at its core and deeply healing in nature.
Picture a young girl in first grade, her eyes red and puffy from crying herself to sleep the night before. In my seven-year-old mind, being left out of the recess play group was the end of the world. Yes, I did dwell in my grief for a night, but by the next day I arrived in my classroom with a new mission—make sure none of my other classmates were left out. So, by the time the recess bell rang, I was on sharp lookout for kids sitting alone on the bench or idling near the doorways.
Of course, I wasn’t the first child in the world to ever feel excluded or alone, so it didn’t take long to find someone. I still remember building up the courage to walk over and ask if he wanted to play with me. I saw his face light up and I felt the same spark ignite in me: happiness. Instantly, I forgot all about my sadness from the night before and ran off happily with my new friend.
Ten years later, I follow the same principles. I’m neither the first nor the last to feel excluded, struggle with their mental health, or experience abuse. I can’t go back and reverse my pain and trauma, rather I can choose what future I make of it.
My experiences have given me more empathy and a deeper passion to help others. At the beginning of quarantine, like many youth, I found myself feeling isolated and depressed. Looking for an outlet, I began to get involved with youth advocacy organizations. Similarly to my story in the beginning, my mind is now focused on how I can help the youth in my community, whether that be access to mental health services, human trafficking and sexual abuse prevention, or increased civic engagement. The more involved I get, the more healed I feel.
I am so grateful to be a part of Teen Link, a youth based mental health organization working to break down the barriers and stigmas of seeking support. We want the young adults in our communities to always feel as if they have someone to talk to, someone to understand their stage of life, and someone who will genuinely listen.
As an outreach specialist and member of the recruitment committee, I work to expand our reach and prominence, inform community members of our services, and identify methods of making our services more impactful. If you want to get involved or call the phone line for support, we would love to hear from you!
To learn more about Teen Link and how to become a volunteer, visit www.teenlink.org.