We know why I started this project. But now we need to go through the what and how. This part always trips me up. People say the more times you explain your ideas the less mistakes you’ll make when presenting it. Well, that’s not the case for me. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone about this project and still managed the mess up my explanation. Thankfully, once I had completed a few stories I was able to just show people what I was talking about, instead of trying to explain it. Words are not my forte… why I decided to write a book is beyond me, haha.
(If you haven’t read my last post, you should stop here, go read it and then come back to this one.)
When I returned home from Duke of Ed’s P2P, I had this idea in my head that I now needed to find a way to complete. Was I in over my head? Absolutely.
As I went through old photos and scrolled through Pinterest trying to find inspiration for this new project, I came across a series we attempted but never fully finished. It visually demonstrated that our mental health does not define who we are.
As you can see, we started off with negative words that the individual felt described them. Pathetic, weak, unworthy, stupid, etc. But as they pealed off the labels we see words that actually describe them. Those words underneath can not be removed. Strong, resilient, caring, worthy, etc. We are not those negative perceptions of ourselves. We are amazing people who are just struggling right now. And that’s okay.
Now that I had the idea of photos it was time to refine the process. Because I’ll be honest, the marker we used to write on the faces did not come off well. Which made me realize there was no way I’d be able to convince complete strangers to draw on their faces. So I ditched the marker part but kept the negative labels. Because putting tape on your face should take a little less convincing. So the idea was there. One photo with the negative labels and one without and the individual just smiling and being themselves. I knew another key part of this would be to take the images at a place that the individual felt comfortable. Because feeling safe was a key player in asking people to share and show their vulnerability.
Along side the image I came up with some questions I wanted each person to answer. I made it clear that they could be as in-depth or vague as they wanted. It’s their story and they have control of how it gets shared. The questions where:
What would you tell your younger self?
What do you want to see changed for future generations?
How are you going to help someone else?
But framing them in a way that focuses on the positive we open up the doors for education conversations instead of continuing only seeing the negative.
Once all of this was figured out, it was just a matter of sharing the idea and gathering participants. That was actually the easiest part. Put out a few Facebook ads and ask people share it. The responses came in a steady pace and I was able to get the majority done over the summer.
That’s how I was able to ask people to participate and what was involved.