A personal account of Foolish Optimism

…Your days are like pages, the chapters unread, 
you have to keep turning, your book has no end…

Glass Hearts, Of Mice and Men

These lyrics have always struck a chord with me, sitting in the coffee shop I frequent almost more than some of the staff, watching people living their lives. Stories being shared over steaming cups of tea. I’m having a rather reflective day, thinking of what this new chapter of Foolish Optimism will bring me and others. As a team, we all have our own individual chapters, growing, learning, sharing while facing daily battles with our own heads. For me, my chapter doesn’t look like what I expected it to. My own role as the tour photographer gave me an amazing unique viewpoint on the project, watching through the lens the team’s growth, the profound effect the film had on workshop participants, and the energy generated through people talking and sharing together. Foolish Optimism has become one of the biggest chapters of my life and for that I am grateful I was given this opportunity.

I won’t dwell on my own circumstances too much: I’ve been in a position of having to support others through their journeys; suicide of a close family member; trying to navigate my day to day life through the filter of Asperger’s. Foolish Optimism started as a project but has now become my life, and has challenged every perception I’ve had of mental health. I thought I knew things; however, I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. I became heavy with empathy for those I was working with, a guilt for not having the same battles and yet despite this, it gave me hope. To see the team of young people standing in front of people, sharing their stories and their ideas of solutions to issues within the system is powerful. My own friendships and relationships have become richer, fuller, not shying away from talking about mental health in a rather frank, honest way.

The Foolish Optimism chapter is a very powerful, hopeful chapter. In my own life, it’s giving me permission to walk away from toxicities in my life, to strive for a better career but more importantly the permission to talk about my own thoughts with no fear of judgement, to show that disenfranchised people are not powerless in this society, and that while it may not feel like it at times, their voices are as important, as valid and as powerful. The more we talk, the louder the voice gets, the more horsepower there is to drive the big changes needed in society. Foolish Optimism, the book with no end.

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