Our body of work ‘Reflections’ isn’t just about raising awareness. It’s a fight to keep mental healthcare at the tip of our tongues.
Spoken word poetry lend itself perfectly as a storytelling medium, used for that very same goal. For the sake of clarification, openness, and discussion, I dissect the poems used to uncover the layers that may better add to the debate.
For The Ambitious
X Marks the spot
It’s finally the 6th of December 2015
And your phone kindly highlighted the day of your dance audition,
The one you never stopped panicking about.
The one you never stopped dreaming about.
Fun Fact: December 6th was the day of the actual Reflections auditions. And like all auditions, there is always an air of anxiety, stress, and exceedingly meticulous self-analysis and critique.
Although many dancers thrive in these situations, stress regardless will always have its effect on the psyche – even more so coupled with rejection.
These are minute, day to day things we may overlook that still affects our mental health.
You’ve always been a dreamer.
Reaching for stars that had long switched off their stage lights.
Hoping they would shine that bit brighter to help you find your path to the promised land.
Bricks of encouragement paved the way forward, glossed in yellow and sun.
There is an innocence we can all observe in children. An air of vivid imagination that breeds extraordinary answers to “when I grow up I want to be…”. Yet as we age and experience life, cynicism finds a home in our psyche where dreams are but that.
The first line is a description of the protagonist but also, because of the age demographic, an insight into the inner struggle of maintaining the dreaming, imaginative self when faced in an instance of pragmaticism and realism (regardless of how much you dream it, your skills, compared to others, is the only thing that could land you the job; or whatever the goal).
This struggle is ever so apparent in young people, as it is the formative years where dreams and realism must meet for a decision of future choices (from career to lifestyle). That pressure in this case is eased by encouragement, yet that also can only lea so far.
You set out like an infant’s first steps,
Full of promise,
The dandelion of hope,
So you travel through the concrete jungle, ready to face the music.
Here we see a mental steeliness from the protagonist for the first time. The dream is within reach and instead of lamenting, a real preparation takes place.
And there you finally were, surrounded by glass walls,
drowning in a sea of the too-cool, the too-hip,
hiding opposite yourself,
as you wondered about the what ifs, the what wills, and the what won’ts.
It takes a certain amount of life experience to withstand and cope with overbearing stress. This instance is an admittance to that. Regardless of preparations, certain things will get to you. Like the inability to not compare oneself to others. What coping mechanisms, or better yet, actions, can we take to ensure young people can adequately cope with stress – an inevitable entity.
But not today.
You were ready for war.
Draped in black clothes, following instructions like a true soldier.
Water and fruit, your rations.
Your ambition, loaded, cocked, aimed and ready to fire.
The doubt in your eyes betrayed your unwavering reflection
As you looked down the barrel of your own gun.
The human mind is a tentative thing. Going from strength to weakness in mere seconds. The back and forth inner battle is an attempt to shine a spotlight onto that.
The saying “You are your own worst enemy” comes to mind. We build mental fortresses, put up walls to make sure hurt or pain are avoided. Yet when it comes down to it, we are instruments to our own demises. The power of doubt in an anxious and stressful environment is augmented, to the point where it can break all strengths down.
This question returns: What coping mechanisms, or better yet, actions, can we take to ensure young people can adequately cope with stress?