I Always Need Reminding

So last night I was working late with a group of my volunteers and I was telling them they can follow me on Twitter (@albysaurus or @AlexSuccessIS) and it was the second handle that got us talking. They were confused about why it just ended with SucessIs and were waiting for me to finish that sentence. So I explained about this blog and how I set it up to talk about how volunteering has helped me with my mental health.

Over the years, as I started working longer and longer hours in the charity sector, I stopped volunteering and stopped writing about volunteering so much and so this turned into a general blog about my mental health.

Of course, one of my excellent volunteers would remind me why I started this blog. For those newer readers of my ramblings, let’s talk about my life. #itsallaboutme

I grew up in an Asian household. The expectation for me was to go to school, college, university and then become some sort of doctor, lawyer, engineer or high skilled profession. Unfortunately for my fam, I hated school and that had a huge impact on my mental health and eventually when I turned 18, I was diagnosed with depression and later on anxiety too. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I dropped out of university and started training to be a chef. I loved food and thought this would be a great option for me.

I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. I completed my training though and throughout that I started volunteering and running my own campaigns on various topics. This for me was the first time I felt any semblance of self worth. The first time I enjoyed what I was doing. I met so many amazing people who volunteered with me who I am still best friends with to this day. I’m even going to be a groomsman at one of their weddings in August this year.

I only started doing this stuff when I was about 20. 20 years I didn’t really feel like I was worth anything. I was told multiple times by my stuck up grammar school that I wouldn’t achieve much if I didn’t get all A*’s at GCSE (guess what, even my part time job at Homebase didn’t even ask about my GCSE results, let alone any other job).

It’s pretty great right? It took 20 years for me, but I finally felt like I was doing something useful, productive and helpful to the world. Now don’t get me wrong there were tons of ups and downs throughout my new career in a sector I knew very  little about and lots of breakdowns of my body and brain but without volunteering I don’t think I would have survived to this day.

So over the next few weeks, let’s explore how volunteering saved my life and how it’s still helping me survive to this day.

A

Don’t Meet Your Heroes… Unless They’re Wonderful.

You know how almost all of us have people we want to meet? Usually it’s celebrities. Sports stars, musicians, scientists, you know the type. But when was the last time you had someone “regular” that you wanted to meet? A regular Joe/Jane. A person who you’ve seen around or maybe spoken to once or twice online?

It doesn’t happen often does it? But for me, it happened! It all started with one of my favourite people [A] in the world who’s always supported this blog, my videos, my life in general including supporting me through break ups, awkward encounters, my lowest most depressed and anxious moments.

She knew someone who had been struggling with their mental health [B] and she put us in touch. She also shared my posts on here, Facebook and Instagram. We started chatting nearly 2 years ago on and off and she is fantastic. Life has dealt her a bit of a shit hand but she has always powered through. Despite everything that she’s gone through, she is still going. And one thing I really, wholeheartedly, absolutely respect her for is sharing. We’ve had a fair few conversations about mental health. About her own and about mine. She spoke really openly and honestly with me very early on in our friendship and she knows exactly how much strength that takes. How much energy it takes to do that. How terrifying it can be. But she did it. And I’m so glad she opened up to me because I am so proud and honoured to consider her a friend.

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog is fully aware how much I value the sharing of all of our mental health struggles. It’s something that I think we all need to do more to help remove that stigma. It helps us all feel much more comfortable sharing our struggles. It doesn’t have to be public like what I’m doing. It can just be sharing with one person you trust, but please do share. It will lighten the load.

Anyway, back to the point. Yesterday I got to meet Miss B and she is just as amazing and inspiring as I knew she would be. Everyone always says “don’t meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed”. But you know what? Sometimes you can and should meet your heroes. Miss A is one of my heroes and she introduced me to Miss B who is now one of my latest heroes and I’m very grateful for it. A little extra joy was brought into my life today and I am very glad I met one of my heroes.

Videos, New Skills and a New Passion.

So for those of you who follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen that I’ve recently released my first video for Success In Selflessness. It’s a totally new avenue for me to explore and it’s a new way to reach new people so that I can hopefully support even more people to open up and talk about their mental health. If you haven’t seen it, don’t panic! Here it is:

The first one is about the benefits of forcing yourself outdoors when you suffer with social anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I know how fucking hard it is to get out there but if you can manage it, even for ten minutes, it can give you a huge boost.

Over the last few months I’ve been dabbling with music recording, Illustrator, Photoshop, video editing and After Effects. I have unexpectedly fallen in love with creating videos. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got so so much to learn but I’m so proud of my first real attempt at a video. Rest assured that I’ll be doing more of these! 🙂

If you like the video, please like it, share it and subscribe for more! It’ll really help me out and I really want these short videos to help other people too. If you tag me if/when you share it, I’ll give you a shout out on Twitter (@albysaurus) and/or Instagram (@alexquang)! 🙂

The really wonderful thing that I’ve been pondering recently though is about getting educated. I don’t have a degree. I dropped out after a year of doing Business and Management at Birmingham City University. I didn’t do well at A Levels either. But I definitely don’t feel stupid. I’m so much more motivated to learn now that I can choose what to learn. I’m putting in so many hours into everything that I’m doing now.

The way that I see it, learning is an absolutely essential part of life. If you stop learning, you may as well stop doing anything at all. You’ll stop growing as a person and you’ll never strive to be a better version of you. I stopped striving for a while. I became complacent and I ended up miserable. I didn’t feel like I was challenging myself and I felt like less of a person.

I highly doubt I’m ever going to be a full time professional video editor but learning a skill that I thought would be just something I’d use at work has led to me discovering a new passion and I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty exciting to me!

So don’t stop learning, don’t stop pushing yourself and don’t stop being brilliant.

A