What happens next? To all the work you’ve put in, to the peers you’ve made, to the support you had. I’ve thought about what happens to all of it when the road I’ve been walking on finally comes to an end. Crossing that bridge into becoming an alumni within your new mentality groups and seeing everything else left behind on the other side. Reaching back for one more meeting, one more DTL, one more project.
It almost seems we forget to have a conversation about what that next step is going to look like. Or we don’t think it’s going to come as quickly as it does. Experiencing two transitions at once; becoming an New Mentality alumni, all while entering a new life path. Whether that be entering post secondary, working full time, or moving away for any handful of reasons. Whatever the case may be, and I know I can’t speak for everyone but there’s this emptiness. There’s this need. Because if we look at good ol’Maslow, we need a sense of love, belonging and my group gave me that. I had a purpose, I was making a difference. I had built a family of sorts for myself.
I’m going to talk more about what my experience with this looked like. What I was feeling and things I did to ease that transition. Being a part of the amazing New Horizons New Mentality group at Huron Perth Centre helped me so much during my time as a high school student. I learned so much about how to help others, and about myself along the way. Having to transition out and leave was something I never really thought I would have to do. Because how do you leave something so personal and so entwined with your own being?
During my transition into post secondary I did in fact look into other mental health groups within the college. To my surprise there was something, a group called Let’s Face It. It was everything I was looking for but I felt guilty. I already had a group, and these amazing friends. How would I be able to join something else? I’m going to tell you it wasn’t easy and it’s not going to be easy. But, it was one of the best choices I’ve made. Granted I didn’t join right away it took me about a month to really sort through these feelings, where at first I wasn’t going to join at all. Yes, it felt like I was making this whole big betrayal, but I have come to realize that all these advocacy groups are ultimately on the same side. We’re all here as agents of change. Looking to make a difference, to bridge the gaps within the many systems we come in contact with.
When leaving our New Mentality groups we have to hold faith in our successors. Some advice I want to give future alumnus and those who are now, taking that step, although we have to pass on our torches we still continue to take our fire with us. Use it, get involved in new groups even. You still have so much light to give.
To the adult allies, have those conversations. It’s going to be hard for both of you, but it’s important to identify the needs of the youth who are transitioning. What do they need? How can they stay connected? Your youth are leaving a big part of themselves. Something they used to socialize themselves, a support system, an outlet. Help them see that they still have so much purpose. Connect with those who have been alumni for a couple years even, and acknowledge their feelings. Identify what could have helped that process and what could be done differently now. Growing is scary and uncomfortable, but we are all resilient past, present and future.
Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing his journey of becoming a New Mentality alumni!
If you are interested in becoming a Youth Media Ambassador for the New Mentality, please email firstname.lastname@example.org