“It is ok to not be ok, but it is not ok to stay that way.” Perry Noble
It’s okay to not be okay. A six word phrase that we all have heard and/or spoken many times in our lives before. However, it is not the spoken part of this phrase that youth, and people around the world need to hear. In fact, it is the unspoken part of these six words that are truly beneficial to the thriving success of all humankind on an international scale.
Now, I am in no way saying that the famous expression of “it’s okay to not be okay” is a bad one, I am just suggesting that it is an unfinished one. It is okay to not be okay, but it is not okay to stay that way forever. It is okay to not be okay, but I know in time I will get stronger. By adding these additional words to the original expression, we are able to press play on the narrative that continues to remain paused, as well as formulate a pivotal message of hope, growth and resilient change.
On the topic of paused narratives, this past year, we have all learned how the action of “pause” is both a blessing and a burden. For myself, taking the time to slow down, and reflect was definitely a great recharge for a while, but as the pandemic continued, my recharged self slowly lost its battery life, and I wasn’t unable to press play on my narrative anymore. Both of my parents lost their jobs, I was unable to see my family and friends, I started having major anxiety attacks to the point where I was scared of everything, my self-esteem dropped, and I felt like I was on a continuous loop of bad days. I was not okay, and that’s okay. However, It was not okay for me to stay that way forever. I had to press play on my paused narrative. I had to move forward. I had to hear those unspoken words. I had to be brave. I had to be strong. So I did and I was.
In September of 2020, I became the Student Ambassador for the Dare to be Youth Charity (DTBY) in Burlington, Ontario. I was given the opportunity to share my voice and passion for inspirational change amongst the youth of the Halton and Hamilton community, and the reward of making a difference (no matter how small it was) was nothing short of amazing. Getting the chance to make relatable videos and social media posts for youth who were facing the same challenges I was, helping create and participating in DTBY’s first ever “ From Surviving to Thriving ” workshop or being able to work on planning a virtual and interactive Youth Inspire Community Day event with my fellow peers on the DTBY’s Community Youth Council (CYC), has all been amazing! I would have never imagined that my story would end up here.
Mentorship is so important in this world, and I think it is something that needs to be talked about more. I would dare to say that it is even a necessity of life. In the same way we need food and water to fuel our bodies, we need mentorship and support to fuel our minds, confidence, and drive to be our authentic selves. Without my role at DTBY and my mentor Shannon Tobin, I would have continued to remain stuck in “it’s okay to not be okay” and would not have given myself the full potential to be the person I now know I can be!
You see, my point is, you don’t have to finish this six word phrase “it’s okay to not be okay” with the same words I chose to, you just have to finish it. Do not let it end there. Too many young people are letting themselves fall into a paused narrative, and don’t realize how toxic it truly is. If you don’t know who you want to be, or where you want to go, or how you are going to get better, I will be the first to tell you that it is completely fine and that you don’t need to. Just get up, enjoy the world, take it day by day, and remember, all you need to do is press play on “it’s okay.”
Rachel Shadid is a 19 year old student ambassador for the Dare to be Youth Charity (DTBY) in Burlington, Ontario. Currently an undergraduate student at McMaster University, Shadid is pursuing a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, and a minor in Marketing Communications. She is a passionate speaker when it comes to community change, social injustices, mentorship, and youth development. Her role at DTBY has inspired her to become a mentor for Halton and Hamilton youth, in hopes of changing their lives one smile and conversation at a time. “Paying forward the action of giving back creates a chain effect that could last a lifetime. All you have to do is create the first link,” a quote by Rachel Shadid.