In light of an article I was working on with my school paper’s editorial board, along with it being the second-semester of senior year before decisions, I thought it’d be appropriate to talk about this topic:
And no, this is not my preachy, self-serving perspective, need for you to relax and calm down about decisions or whathaveyou. No, this is an acknowledgment, an acknowledgment of the very real fact that there are moments where you don’t know what’s next, what your future might be, how you’re going to get through something. That is the story I want to tell today.
During the start of middle school, I dealt with a lot of personal conflicts. I was one of the so-called introverted students who attempted many times and failed to understand many of my peers. I couldn’t have conversations about young teen things because I wasn’t interested in those things. I was fascinated with tech, with Apple, with history, with politics. And for that first year of middle school, I had no one to share my passions for.
Except for our IT specialist at our school.
For whatever reason, he connected with me, never hesitated to talk the latest tech with me, and perhaps most of all, never questioned why I wasn’t spending time directly with kids my age. He was the one who made me not completely despise coming to school every day. I’d be alone in the library, just on my computer, waiting for whenever he came back to his office, and I went directly to hang out with him.
Yet I still faced a lot of issues at home, at which points I felt as though I didn’t belong or have a place anywhere. And as an early age student, I went through every possible thing you could think of. I had testing done on me and went to a social interactions class where I was the only non-white kid amongst very privileged, spoiled kids who just made no effort to really connect deeper with the world around them. None of it helped.
At points, I didn’t know my place on this planet, I didn’t feel as though I deserved a place in the fortunate circumstances I was granted by virtue of being born.
But one day, our school counselor made a referral for me to see someone, to see a therapist.
When I walked in for the first session almost seven years ago, I was afraid. How was I suppose to just tell this person my whole life story in 50 minutes? How could this person, seemingly with nothing in common with me, help remedy every conceivable problem that I was facing at the time, both at home and at school?
But slowly, week by week, I just realized that I needed help. I needed someone unbiased that wouldn’t be willing to just say “Everything is fine. You’re going to be fine.” For the first time in my life, I felt as though someone was willing to just listen. Obviously having someone to go to is a privilege that I am so grateful my parents helped support me with. And while yes, it is a profession, I had no one in my life at that point where I could just express everything to.
And he is a very large part of the reason why I am here, writing to you today. Without him, I don’t know if I might have been around.
That dialogue that began seven years ago still is on today, just on a bimonthly schedule. In hundreds of hours of discussion, I got to finally see the intricacies of my mind, understand the mood swings and know how to cope with them. From basketball to school to everything in between, he has helped hear and guide me into trying to be the best version of myself. He helped me find who I am, and for that, I am forever grateful for that.
There are so many stigmas related to seeing a therapist that I could not list even a tenth of the total amount. Yet, I think regardless of seeing someone professional, I took the steps to acknowledge that I needed support, that I needed help. I had people looking out for me enough to get me to the point where I go to that realization with their support.
What I try to do every day is to be conscious. Every single day, if I see a friend, not in a good space, I just ask how they are doing and just listen. I don’t let any preconceptions I have let me dictate how to listen because I know how valuable that unbiased opinion is. And so I extend that same offer to you, the reader. If you want to just talk to someone close to you, try your hardest if you can to speak up. But more importantly, as brothers, sisters, and friends, if you see someone, not themselves, just ask and check in. “How are you doing?” “Let me know if there is anything I can help with.” Give a thumbs up. Being vocal to be there is something that you may not think will help, but it does. Reach out, and who knows, you could help pick up someone in a way they never have been supported in their lives.
Being Noah Tesfaye #66: When I Realized I Needed Help
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