“You don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning do you?
When I changed my social media profile pictures to those bright yellow fliers of Nayla Kidd, I was convinced that my little gesture of support was going to be a part of this puzzle of finding out what happened to her and it was. I weaved my way through social media as I always do and instantly was able to connect with family who directed concerned citizens on the best steps to help find her. So many people changed their profile pictures, shared the family’s social media posts and #findingNayla tweets that I knew something had to give. I wasn’t sure what happened, but something told me that she wasn’t dead and we needed to come together to find her and figure out what happened to her.
— FindingNayla (@Gin8a99) May 13, 2016
— The Root (@TheRoot) May 15, 2016
— Woman on the Move (@JasiraMonique) May 15, 2016
After two weeks, the speculation came in that Nayla voluntarily removed herself from her life as a Columbia University engineering student and that she just needed a break. I immediately thought ‘What in the world could make a person go through such an extreme chain of events to get a break?’ then I remembered my time in Spain last year, I remembered my tormented relationship with my son’s father, my isolated stay in a shelter run by Catholic nuns in SE D.C. and I remembered the disappointment in myself when I couldn’t handle the entry level math work I needed to take to be admitted into Howard University’s School of Engineering. I remembered all the times I wowed and surprised family and friends and then just felt like I was barely skating through college life. I wasn’t anything spectacular at school because spectacular was the norm, excellence was expected and my best just wasn’t good enough to separate me from the rest.
It’s a hard pill to swallow to be the top student and then be barely noticed because what is top and excellent in one location and school system, might be viewed as mediocre work and performance in another. After reading Nayla’s own words, I realized that we as a community have to do a better job of accepting our own, letting them know that it’s ok if their best just won’t cut it anymore and if they have to switch gears in mid-race to keep their sanity; it’s ok, we’ll still be here and it will all work out somehow.
For parents who are freaking out at the thought of this catastrophe and loved ones who just don’t get it, here are 5 questions for you to ask yourself so that your child, spouse or loved one doesn’t completely withdraw and disappear like what we just virtually witnessed with Nayla Kidd:
1. Does your loved one have someone who is an unbiased professional that they can confide in?
Therapy goes a long way. Oftentimes, a therapist can get in and pull out deeply rooted feelings and beliefs that us untrained professionals can’t. Sometimes we just need to pour out everything all at once and not be given any advice or opinions, we just need an ear from a person who cares if we succeed or not, but is removed enough to let us learn how to grow as individuals. A non-career related mentor might be sufficient as well; someone who maybe attends the same church or is involved in the community that has deep ties to helping youth, but knows how to view things from a holistic perspective.
See Also: Find a Mentor
I had been waking up every day for months with a feeling of dread and doom. I couldn’t keep putting my all into something I cared nothing about. – Nayla Kidd
2. Are you placing unnecessary pressure on those you love because of your own fear of failure?
If you grew up in a chaotic environment or experienced things that you don’t want your loved ones to experience, sometimes you might tend to be overbearing just to help take control in areas where you never experienced any. Your need for control or stability, might suffocate those you love because they desire to love and live without as many restrictions to figure out themselves. List your fears, what caused them and then ask yourself if your fears are unwarranted as it relates to this particular loved one? If so, what can you do to take off some of the unnecessary pressure off of them? Are there more appropriate measures to take to give them more freedom and power over their own life and matters? Ask yourself how can you step away and let them lead their own life? Then, learn to let go.
3. Do you accept ‘No’ for an answer?
Is it your way or the highway? If it is, then one day your loved one might decide the highway is better. Think of ways you can make compromises that help you stay in the loop and not be completely excluded. If you being in the know, makes life too complicated, then you will eventually become an outsider. Learn how to love from a distance. Detachment is a key in stepping away from codependent relationships. They will eventually come back when they feel respected as an individual and loved for who they are and not for pretending they are who you decided they should be.
4. Can you recognize signs of fatigue or depression?
Taking mental health therapy free courses might help you be a mediator for a loved one or a stranger. Learn the signs for help and figure out how you can be a solution and not a part of the problem. Be a source of relief by being a good listener, open minded and empathetic. If you can’t express empathy, then get someone else involved who can.
See Also: Are Your Kids in a Race to Nowhere?
5. Do you know if your loved one’s interests/priorities have changed or shifted?
“I am back to the beginning. Unpopular, totally weird but I’m in love with myself…” – Nityasya Belapurkar
Is there a new project that is now always coming up in conversation? Do you know of anything that they get really excited about when it’s mentioned? Is there something or an event they keep telling you they want to do or are curious about? There might be a shift in priorities or desires. Acceptance and support is crucial. There are so many foreign students who come to America for business or engineering studies who later want to pursue the arts but don’t feel the freedom to do so. Money and lots of time is wasted because eventually they will find a way to escape the trap and will pursue their passion. Hopefully they aren’t too burnt out after working so hard trying to impress others instead of doing what they really desire and love.
Are you working on one of these areas?
Chime in and let us know your thoughts below!