Last week, I took the plunge and ‘got out there’. By that I mean I went to a networking event / story-telling workshop….
Was I looking for potential clients? Well, if I met someone who wanted my services - fantastic! But more than that I wanted to connect with people making the world a better place and get an insight into the struggles they face.
To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure I was supposed to be there because it was for social enterprises but I thought, what’s the worst that could happen - I get some funny looks and feel a bit cringey. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.
But, as you can imagine, everyone was really welcoming and completely understood why I was there - I was there to meet people and learn, just like them.
All the people I met had incredible stories of what they are doing within their organisation or the projects they hope to make a reality. I don’t think I met a single person who was tackling the same issue (from fitness classes for the homeless to increasing diversity in the magazine industry) and all of them are creating practical solutions or working towards them.
During the workshop we were being taken through steps to analyse and convey a story so that we can resonate with an audience, instilling a sense of urgency and encouraging them to take action. Incredibly useful for my client-work and for taking into my own brand story.
Most importantly, I found the reflective questions we were asked and the conversations I had refocussed my mind in three ways.
One, even thought I started out introducing myself vaguely as a graphic designer interested in working with social enterprises, by the end of the workshop I was talking about my specific passion - mental health. It’s not one moment that has lead to this - it’s the relationships, experiences and conversations in my life. It’s the fact that the ‘one in four of us will experience mental health struggles at some point in our lives’ just doesn’t ring true to me. It’s more, so many more than that, it’s four out of four - be it mild, temporary or life-long so we need to tackle it together.
Two, what I believe to be true was validated - if you talk about mental health, people open up. It may not be about their mental health, it may be a member of their family or a friend but most people have been touched by mental illness/struggles and it helps to talk.
Three, I was reminded specifically of another truth that I, like so many, know but easily forget. Those who support people with mental health problems, also need to be supported. Whether this is practical advice about what to say/not to say, education about a condition so they know what their loved one is feeling, or regularly checking in to make sure they are looking after their own mental health.
All in all, this event helped me get out from within the usual four walls - physically and metaphorically. If you'd like to know more about it, I'd be happy to chat about it and share what I learned and the resources we were given.