Mia Berloni, a fourth-year Environmental Science student at Queen’s, writes about the importance of expressing one’s thoughts and feelings, and how vulnerability can shift the campus culture to be more empathetic and open.
The topic I was given for this blog post was re-imagining the future. This is a very broad topic, and there are so many things I believe could be changed and improved to make the institution of Queen’s better. The thing that stuck out the most for me was vulnerability. Attending a school that more openly encourages and embraces vulnerability would have so many benefits for all students at Queen’s.
When space is made for openness, students can feel more comfortable living as their genuine selves, as living authentically in itself is a vulnerable act. Through my work at the Peer Support Centre (PSC), I have seen what incredible things can come from providing space for students to tell their story, be vulnerable and ask for help.
When I think of vulnerable spaces created by the Queen’s community, I think of this year’s TALKS rally hosted by the PSC. This event aims to make space for vulnerability, the Outreach team at the PSC organizes three speakers to kick off the gathering, and then the floor is opened up to attendees to share. I was one of the speakers at the beginning, and I was really scared all day leading up to sharing my story. I knew I was going to cry while speaking and the thought of sharing was enough to make me feel sick, let alone the added element of crying in front of a group of people I did not know. But I did it. I shared my experience, and it was incredible. I immediately felt lighter. Although it was hard, having the people at the event stay, listen and empathize with me made me feel validated, heard and accepted. Many people shared that night, and seeing the Queen’s community’s strength in vulnerability was incredibly inspiring.
Since that event, I have made a commitment to try my best to be more open, and honest with those around me. To share more of myself. This has been resulting in more joy in my life, closer connections, and less anxiety. I believe everyone can benefit from being more vulnerable to one and other.
If you are struggling it is okay not to be okay, it is okay to reach out for help; it is okay to cry. I know I am not alone when I say I feel honoured when my friends, family and peers share with me. If you are thinking about reaching out, I encourage you to do so. You are not a burden, and there are people who would love to hear your story.
If your friend is struggling, listen to them, let them know you are there for them, help connect them with resources if necessary, and take care of yourself too. We all have a role to play in fostering more vulnerable environments, and I think that can start with us asking one another “how are you doing?” and really wanting to know the answer even if it is not “I’m good how are you?”.
Student Wellness Services: 1-613-533-2506
Peer Support Centre: Open seven days a week 10am-10pm located on the lower level of the JDUC Rm 34 & 26