In 2007 back when I was 16 years old, I was going through a difficult time. It was my third year in high school which meant three years of bullying, feeling lonely, being depressed and battling social anxiety. I saw no end in sight and believed my end was near.
On sunny day in Victoria in mid-August the realization hit me, I’m going on a humanitarian trip to Mexico tomorrow, what do I do. For any healthy human being the answer is easy, just go. But for me everything was but easy. During this time no knew I was going through what I was going through. I had battled depression for years and I hadn’t told a soul. I was more afraid of people than I was of dying, but my worst fear was having people find out that I was sick.
The thing about depression is that no one can prove to anyone that they are 100% depressed. You can’t find depression on an x-ray, on a scantron and all you can do is hope that people believe what you tell them. During this day I was faced with the most difficult decision of my life, 1. go on the humanitarian trip but face your fears or 2. Not go and tell your parents that you’re sick after having them spend $1200 on the humanitarian trip.
I choose option number 1. I would rather die than choose option 2. I thought if I had told my parents, my friends or teachers that everyone would assume that I was a freak, sooner or later I would end up in the hospital. During the first 2 days on our way to Mexico, I struggled with every aspect of life such as talking to the people on my trip, how to deal with homesickness and hiding what I was going through when being surrounded by people 24/7.
Even after struggling for a couple of days, I had many bright spots. I made a lot of friends. I became open and started to act like myself for the first time in at least 4 years and more importantly I learned how to trust and love those around me.
When we got to the house we called home, we had travelled for 3 days, cross two boarders and went six hours south of San Diego to a small community called Vicente Guerrero. During the next week in Vicente Guerrero, we spent an hour of time putting together a soccer camp for kids, we visited an orphanage and more importantly we built two houses for two of the most incredible families I have ever met. Why were these two families so incredible? It is because they showed 30 Canadians ranging from the ages of 16-24 how to communicate, how to love each other and how to take nothing for granted.
We are surrounded by poverty, but nothing prepares yourself for the moment where you are stuck in the middle of nowhere in a developing country surrounded by poverty.
On the last day we were there, I knew I had a decision to make. Who would I want to be after we leave in Mexico? Would I want to be the same depressed, bullied guy who was incredibly socially awkward or would I want to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
The most important thing poverty has taught me is that no matter who you are there will always be someone who has more then you and someone who has less than you. But no matter what, only you can decide how happy you are. In times of uncertainty choosing being happy is no an easy choice. We must demand it. During that last day I choose uncertainty because I knew it would make me happy. Later that night I faced my worst fears and being surrounded by everyone on the trip I told them what I had gone through. I told them my story. It was that week, that my life had no only changed but it changed everyone’s lives that I come in contact with. Since then, I’ve shared my story; in front of high schools, newspapers and even on TV. I used to hate uncertainty and now I’ve leant to love it. It comes with the job when working as a Youth and Student leader. Embrace uncertainty, learn to love it. In order to become someone you always wanted to be, you must do the things you’ve never done.
Fun Fact: The organization I went to Mexico with is with Live Different (which is the same organization which is running the World Vision trip to The DR and Thailand). Also I ended up doing 10 trips in 6 summers while building 11 houses. You can join us on one of these amazing trips that changed my life right here.
Give Love, Bring Hope and Create Change.
Love. Hope. Change.Read other posts from The Voice.