depressed young man sitting on the bench

The Pencil and The Pen

By Deborah Marini, Mental Health Advocate and Owner of The Awareness Impact, LLC~

Last week would have been a friend of my son’s 21st Birthday.

But it wasn’t.

Because he wasn’t here…

I want to talk about that. Suicide. It’s not an easy topic to chat about. But we need to. This is directed toward all of you young adults out there. Whether you feel you are struggling or not.

Let’s go back for a minute to a time when you are sitting in a classroom. You’re listening to the professor or teacher giving a homework assignment on the topics covered over the last few weeks. Sounds great so far right?!

Only you’ve been “lost” on this topic for WEEKS! You have no idea what they were talking about and realize you’re in over your head and won’t be able to complete the assignment.

So, you speak up… You let the teacher or professor know that you have no idea how to grasp what they’ve taught and that you are sooo not following what’s expected for the assignment. You HAD to speak up! Your grade depended on it!

As you admit your struggle you see shoulders in the class dropping like a weight has just been lifted! You hear others come forward and say “I thought I was it was just me!”

Turns out you weren’t the only one! You suddenly don’t feel as lost or alone in your journey.

It is the same thing when you’re struggling mentally!

I guarantee if you feel alone, the moment you share you will find out that you aren’t. The moment you reach out you’ll find comfort in the fact there are others feeling the same way. Others who also need help. Others who are struggling.

It’s not a camp of one.hands

And that teacher or professor, that person you went to and said you were “lost,” they are now given the opportunity to correct any confusion and put the lesson into words and concepts that you’ll understand. You gave them that chance to help!

It’s the same with your Mental Health! Your life, like your grade, depends on it. That “teacher” or “professor,” when it’s a mental struggle can be a trusted adult, a group for young adults in your area, a campus counselor, the suicide hotline or countless professionals just waiting to say “thank you for reaching out, let’s sort out how you are feeling. You are not alone…I swear!”

I want to share an analogy. One that I hope will resonate with you.

There’s a pen and a pencil. Both communicate. Both write ideas, letters, notes and their purpose is the same.

But the pen’s writing is permanent. Strong. Bold and Unwavering.

Yet the pencil can be erased.

If you are the pencil, it’s easy to look at the strengths of the pen and feel less than. Unworthy. Lacking a purpose.

But, If you re-frame that thought and say “Your purpose is for permanence and rigidness, mine allows for mistakes and correction,” you find the uniqueness in your purpose!

Both have a different approach to the same purpose!

That is what I want to drive home here…YOU…HAVE…A…PURPOSE that is uniquely your own!!!

Don’t compare your purpose to anyone else’s because we all impact each other in different ways.

I’ll use a sailing analogy here, ( I LOVE analogies!)

When you sail, your direction is dictated by the wind. If you want to go east but the wind is directly in front of you, you need to sort of zig-zag to get there. It’s called a “tack.” You need to go out of your way to get to your destination. A lot of times, it’s the same in life!

You could feel your purpose is found in theatre but you don’t make the play. Maybe take another tack and join the stage crew. There may be someone there that needs your presence.

You could try out for a team and not make the cut. Take another tack and join the staff. There may be an athlete that needs your wisdom and you were drawn to that for a reason. You are the pen or the pencil for a reason and that reason is as unique as you are. Your strengths are where another needs your help. And you from them. The biggest point here is we aren’t meant to do this life alone!

We all impact each other, so if one leaves, that gift that could help someone else leaves with them.

So, in conclusion; Stick around, tack as often as you need to And one day you’ll say ”THAT’S why I’m here. I get it now.”

Sean would have been 21.

I will be 58 this week.

And it took me a while to get here, but I know why I’m here.

It’s to make sure all of you stay as well. To all of Sean’s friends, to my son, to all of you that have sat at my kitchen island over the years, and to those of you I have yet to meet, you matter. You are the light of the future. Stick around.

Here are some resources for you:

  3.  National Institute for Mental Health