I’m upset. Davos picked Prince William instead of me to speak about mental health. Fine. I get it. Fair choice. It is very heartening to see mental health high on Davos’ agenda. It is heartening to see mental health on more and more people’s agenda these days.
When I first wrote about depression ten years ago, people thought it was weird.
When I did my first ever public talk, three people showed up. The flyer was printed in a local Kodak shop near home. I assembled the flyer with random elements on Powerpoint.
Today, my old-fashioned self still sometimes throw things together on Powerpoint and hope its looks “professional”. But today, the audience at a talk could range from three to hundreds.
I used to knock on companies’ doors and offer to do a “Mental Wellness” workshop for free, only to have the door slammed in my face, or asked to change the title to “How to be happy.”
Today, I get request, invitations, enquiries, and even get paid sometimes.
A few years ago, it was hard to find people working in the space of mental health. Today, the space has boomed, particularly with the aid of technology. And the wave is overwhelming.
And I sat glum today, worried that the “wave” will pass me by and I would not have made anything out of Bearapy’s work. What if I get forgotten amidst all of these? What if my business don’t grow?
But as I sat, I recalled my experience a months ago speaking at a women’s professional network. As I spoke to the crowd, I could feel the warmth while they listened intently, no one scrolling on their phones. Last week, I celebrated my 10th Chinanniversary with friends in Beijing, and also spoke about my book and Bearapy’s work. I could feel myself tearing up inside when I looked into everyone of their eyes. They got it, they have been here for me.
And then, I understood.
I AM being the changeI want to see in this world. I AM making it happen. Already. Right before my very own eyes.
I was part of that “wave”, the movement, and the conversation. I started this almost a decade a go, and before me were many others who have been advocating mental health for 15, 20 years or more. And these people, like my mentor, have paved the way to make it possible for me to join in the work.
We are ALL part of this change, this shift, and this movement that gets us to the tipping point.
The fact that more and more people are aware of the topic of mental health, that some countries have workplace mental health commissions, have the government involved, and even have burnout management consultants talking about coping with stress (oh the irony!) is because some of us – me included – were there. And because so many came before me, it was possible that I build on the foundations. Slowly, we gained momentum, and build the momentum to this day. It is not out of nowhere that in a few days Prince William and a few other CEOs and key government officials will be speaking about mental health at Davos.
For once, I am taking credit for this change. I think I have earned it, with substance and hard work.
There is more to be done. I can continue to pioneer this wave, and continue my writing. I want to have my book in Chinese – that’s one aspiration for this year. And I would like to publish more writing on other media outlets. And make some money for Bearapy. And… and… and…
But for now, I’m taking credit for this change in the winds and waves.
I am proud of the people doing this work, advocating for mental health in all aspects.
I am proud of me!
Stress in the City is available in hardcopy, ebook / kindle, and audio form.
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