In the year in that I have been working at Pride Lands, I have encountered many challenges.
Earning the respect of our cubs and their parents, thinking of new ways to make our time together fun but valuable, and being able to face my own fears, just to name a few. None have been quite as challenging as the balancing act that it takes to maintain my own wellbeing and provide our cubs with the best support I can muster.
This job is by no means easy. We are often the ones that stick around when it seems everyone else has given up, and the children notice this. They share their own thoughts, experiences, and emotions with us, and they test us, hoping that we stay. And we do. Each and every time. But there is a lot of pressure and emotional strain that comes with the information they share and the bad days that usually involve some form of breakdown that we work to repair. These are often the days that leave you questioning how much you can really do.
As an individual with a history of mental illness, I am no stranger to the pressures of everyday life and how often a bad day can turn into a bad week, or even into a bad month. This is usually one of the many things that help me build a relationship with the newer cubs, creating a foundation based on mutual experiences and understanding. However, this means that often I am left feeling the strain of trying to help our cubs who may also struggle with the same situation. We carry some of the weight when our cubs and mentees do open up to us. This strain can often put me off balance and I am no longer able to support my mentees as much as they deserve.
So how do I get through? Easy, I rely on Pride Lands and the people there. On days where I am feeling a little down, I drop in at one of our centres where I am bound to find cubs with smiles on their faces and oftentimes arms wide open – never underestimate the intuition of a child! Not to mention friends in the other staff members who are always ready to share some wise words about similar situations they have been in.
If these methods do not work, I know that Moses is ready to give me the time I may need to reset and find my footing before jumping back in. Often, taking that step back is the perfect opportunity to really see how much progress we have made, both as individuals and as mentors. This is crucial and a privilege that I am aware other people do not have; for that I am grateful to Moses for the support he shows his staff. Then there are always the ones waiting for me at home, ready to give me a hug and listen while I vent.
So yes, the job is challenging and balancing our wellbeing with the work we do is not always easy. But it is what we choose to do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, especially when I know that the work is so important to the success of our cubs and their families. And when I am struggling, there is always a team of people ready to support me in any way they can so that I can get back to providing our cubs with the best support and care at my disposal.