Worth Living Ambassador Ashley Wunsch
Hello, my name is Ashley Wunsch and I am a first-year student studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. I always had a desire to change the world. Sometime last year, I realized that changing the world isn’t only digging wells and building schools, but also taking care of yourself and your mental health, so I started to get involved with organizations surrounding mental health like Worth Living.
Fear of Judgement
Although this is my first actual blog post here, there are about 10 drafts saved on my laptop. Even as I sit here writing this, when the whole idea of this blog is structured in my brain, I worry that this will mark number 11. When I applied to be an ambassador in May, I told myself I was going to be an amazing ambassador and write these posts frequently-evidentially that never happened. Every time I would start to type down the thoughts in my head, after a few lines, I would save the word document and close it, pretending the idea never popped into my head. The thought that my feelings would be public and all my friends could read them terrified me. I wanted to relieve the weight off my shoulders but I also didn’t want to give others that power to judge.
I always chose the latter, letting my thoughts pile up instead of letting them out simply out of fear of what people will say. I felt like most people wouldn’t believe me and to some extent, I still do. It’s battling what I feel inside, versus what other people expect. I think expectations are the biggest part of my struggle and why opening up seems so terrifying.
How am I, the girl who got a 95% average in high school, supposed to admit I got a 30% on my first university midterm? Every time someone has asked me how it went, I shrugged it off and pretend it never happened because I’m terrified of how they will react. How am I supposed to be honest and tell people I am so overwhelmed and lost when people back home ask “how’s school going?” when they expect me to be great and loving it? The truth is, I wasn’t perfectly together back home either, but that’s what everyone expects. They think that if I can help other’s deal with their problems, that means that I am 100% put together. However, I’m not and haven’t been for a few years.
It got to the point where I wouldn’t even bother trying to open up anymore apart from a few people. I knew that if I were to try and explain my thoughts, the answers I would receive would be “that’s not that bad”, “you’ll be okay”, or the person totally going on about a situation that is worse in their lives. As much as I knew I would be okay or how people have things worse off, those are not the sort of replies I needed in those moments. I feel another part of me was always panicked to share my thoughts on this blog out of the fear that my friends would read it and feel like I am pinpointing them and that it is their fault. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, so I just shrugged it off and never dedicated myself to write it out. Yet I want my friends to know that if they are reading it, it’s not your fault and I don’t blame you. Sometimes, I even catch myself answering to your problems with a reply along those lines and I apologize for every time I did.
Unfortunately, the fear of judgement has stopped me from doing a lot of things and telling people how I honestly feel. It has even made me lie or cover the truth, such as the time a teacher asked me if I enjoyed a trip, when in reality, I had no true emotions. Did I hate it? Did I love it? I wasn’t so sure and still am not 100% sure. Did I feel anxious yes, but did I also have fun, yes. Would I have chosen to not go at all? I am not too sure. Yet how am I supposed to describe all this to the teacher? I don’t remember exactly how I worded it, but I remember saying how it was fun but I was worried for my valedictorian speech the next day and that clouded my feelings over the trip. Yet, I also remember being terrified to go white water rafting and zip lining, and wanting to return home the second we left that Tim Hortons.
Just because I look ‘perfectly okay’ on the outside, doesn’t mean I am ‘perfectly okay’ on the inside. As I look ahead to my overwhelming week of four mid-terms, I remember the wise words of two of my favourite people: “doing your best is the best you can do” and this week, (and every week), I will focus on being my best instead of the best, and not worrying about the expectations of people back home or even my new friends here in Ottawa.
I now see that I can’t be perfect in every way and I am going to have flaws. I know I am going to feel worried about things and things aren’t always going to be smooth sailing. I know that I am going to struggle some days with things that could be super simple or super complicated. I know that it is okay to be afraid and to do it anyways. I want to start living by the mantra of ‘doing one thing a day that scares you’, and hopefully, help me grow as a person. I want to change the world, and I will one day change the world, but first, I need to start with myself.
For that reason, I will talk about my mental health and how it is not perfect and how I am struggling. I will wear that shirt saying it’s okay not to be okay in public and not only in my room where no one can see it. I will make my mental health a priority and although part of me will always be scared of the outcomes, from now on,