‘Exposure Asks’ about mindfulness

February 23, 2024

L-R: Sacha, Jason, Vlad, Daniel and Jacob

Young people share with us how they enrich their lives

We explore the importance of self-awareness and the way engaging with creative interests can empower us to navigate the complexities of relationships and modern life.

Our group agree that a sense of purpose, resilience, and a deeper understanding of ourselves, and the world around us contributes to our personal growth, improved mental well-being, and the ability to connect to others.

We each have unique experiences and viewpoints, but we share something in common; we’ve all overcome big life changes with the support of our loved ones and communities.

Scroll down and use the slider tool to see how we responded, and to view relevant thoughts and facts we wanted to share. The images on the left show how we felt, while the images on the right provide information on each issue.

I’m deeply grateful for the creative outlets in my life — Jason Mavron, 19

I’m incredibly grateful for my creative outlets which allow me to express myself fully. Through my writing and designs for fashion and architecture, I’ve discovered ways to delve into my emotions and embrace my authentic self.

For me, writing serves as a powerful means of self-expression, providing solace and release. My designs, whether for a t-shirt or for a piece of architecture, offer an additional dimension for self-expression. Drawing up my designs allows me to showcase my unique ideas and inspirations.

These creative pursuits not only connect me to others but also serve as a universal language of creativity, bridging gaps between people. They are more than hobbies; they’re a lifeline, offering the freedom to be unapologetically myself.

A video game that allows me to escape from the stresses of the world is, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s known for its open-world exploration, intricate puzzles, and immersive gameplay.

The film Legend starring Tom Hardy as both of the notorious Kray twins, prompted my thinking about human nature. It offers a visceral look into the complexities of crime, loyalty, and family bonds. As I watched, it got me thinking about the choices made by the twins and the subsequent consequences. The movie examines significant themes, such as how the lines between right and wrong are blurred. It definitely left a mark on how I see people and their actions.

My brother and family always have my back and keep me in check — Jacob Kibrab, 18

Experiencing bullying at school led me to withdraw and isolate myself as a coping mechanism to avoid the harassment. I still hung out with my friends, but my world became smaller, and I developed social anxiety.

I found it difficult to reach out and take the first step, to seek help. Having an older brother was a great support. I could be myself and relax at home, no matter what was going on at school.

When I started at Barnet and Southgate College, the atmosphere was very different. The encouragement from both tutors and peers to express my creativity and thoughtfulness started to have a positive impact on me.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve felt better about myself, more confident. Previously I have been stuck in the past and not able to trust or interact with people too well. But this year I’ve taken chances and become more confident talking to people.

I feel more comfortable because I understand now that I’m not alone. Everyone’s going through something. That’s life. We must build the strength and resources to get through difficult times.

My mate Jason says he’s seen the difference in me. He told me, “You used to be more withdrawn and on your own last year, but I’ve noticed you’ve come out of your shell and grown in confidence.”

Stepping out of your comfort zone is hard and demands motivation

I know from experience that making the first step towards changing your perspective is the hardest. It takes a lot of courage, but after you make the initial shift, it does get easier as time goes on.

Many people struggle with change. It means letting go of the old and adapting to a new normal, which can be tough. Stepping out of your comfort zone is hard and demands motivation. Staying in the familiar feels safe, and the idea of change can bring fear and anxiety about the future.

Growing up in the digital age, my generation is keenly aware of past mistakes and the inherent stigma surrounding mental health. We’re determined to break this cycle. Despite the ease of discussing mental health, especially on social media, men still find it challenging to open up due to fears of appearing fragile.

A series that has me thinking right now, and I just can’t stop watching, is the anime series, Attack on Titan. It’s known for its intense plot, complex characters, and powerful themes. The emotional depth of the series evokes strong feelings in me, and I feel empathy for the characters.

The plot is complicated, linking the past, present and future, making it all the more gripping. The writer clearly planned the plot arcs far in advance and uses foreshadowing to reveal more details with each rewatch.

Moving from Romania to London was a major upheaval, bringing serious challenges — Vlad Ciubotaru, 19

My Mum and Gran became my rocks when my parents split a decade ago. They’ve been my anchor, guiding me through major life changes, like the move from Romania to London eight years ago. Back then, I didn’t know any English, and to be honest, being in a new country without the language isn’t easy.

When my parents divorced, Gran stepped up, becoming my source of strength. Fast forward to London, and the struggle increased with a new culture, new friends and school.

Even with a lot of support at home, I still got frustrated and lonely in the first months as it took time for me to learn how to communicate in English and make friends.

I’m not just thankful for Mum and Gran’s love, I’m grateful for the life lessons they taught me. They proved that change, no matter how intimidating, can lead to personal growth and new adventures.

Adjusting to life in a new country, gaming was a surprising ally for me

They kept me engaged and looked after me. Navigating the initial years in London has shaped me into someone who feels capable of handling life’s challenges. I’m mindful that I used my introspection and self-reliance to work out ways to survive difficult situations.

Adjusting to life in a new country, gaming was a surprising ally for me. The gaming community became a bridge to connection and understanding. Through online multiplayer games, I found a diverse group of friends who share a common love for gaming, transcending geographical barriers.

I mainly play story-based games including Call of Duty, Gta5, Life is Strange and Destiny 2. By playing these games I was able to improve my English-speaking skills in a way that more traditional methods couldn’t help. These innovative games also contributed to developing my creativity which helps me in my film and media studies course today.

I appreciate that I’m able to play sports, with my brother and mates — by Sacha Healy, 17

Since my primary school days, I’ve been deeply immersed in the world of football. The thrill of watching football matches has always been an integral part of my life. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with the result of a match is undeniable; victory fills me with energy, while defeat leaves me feeling dejected.

In the realm of football, my allegiance lies with Arsenal. Beyond just supporting a team, football for me embodies a unique culture that unites fans with a shared purpose. When I witness the passion of fellow fans during a match, I’m struck by the realisation that the players don’t owe me anything, yet their dedication and hard work make me feel indebted to them for the joy they bring to my weekends.

Delving into the psychology of football, I find that investing emotionally in a team serves as a socially acceptable outlet for expressing intense feelings. It’s an indirect method of communicating, especially among men, who are socialised to be less emotionally open. The shared experiences of the fan community create a sense of camaraderie. This unity provides a platform for individuals to express their emotions through the lens of a team’s successes and failures.

Another passion of mine is Formula 1 (F1), an international motor racing sport. My support is firmly behind Lewis Hamilton. I make it a point to watch every Grand Prix and qualifier, even if it means waking up early to catch races in different time zones. It’s the only thing that will get me out of bed at 6am!

Hitting a perfect golf swing, triggers a rush of endorphins and an overwhelming sense of well-being

The thrill of F1, with its fast-paced, adrenaline-inducing races, provides an exhilarating high-octane experience. Watching races with my brother, who supports Hamilton and Williams, adds to the enjoyment as we rally behind UK racers.

Beyond watching football and F1, my love of sports extends to playing squash and golf. Squash became a part of my life through my dad, who is an avid player, while my grandparents’ passion for golf introduced me to the sport. Hitting a perfect golf swing, I’ve discovered, is akin to therapy, triggering a rush of endorphins and an overwhelming sense of well-being.

As well as being a sports lover I’m an avid film fan. A particular film that revolutionised my thinking is The Big Short, about the 2008 financial crisis. It illustrates the real-world consequences of financial decisions and their impact on individuals and society. This film changed my perspective and empowered my understanding of an important part of world economic history.

I realised the ramifications of economic decisions, and how the manipulation of the economy by banking executives resulted in the devastating consequences suffered by ordinary, hard-working people. It’s made me appreciate how impactful filmmaking can be.

I also appreciate the increased visibility of marginalised groups and movements such as Me Too, shedding light on widespread issues of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination, against women. Greater visibility in the public arena encourages more people to come forward. It’s positive that younger generations are increasingly aware of the atrocious experiences of marginalised groups and are open to listening to others’ stories.

Let’s listen to different viewpoints, find common ground, and work together for positive change in our communities.

I’m grateful for musicians who create tracks and sounds that resonate with me — Daniel Farebrother, 17

Music is my emotional anchor, a lifeline that resonates within me. It reflects my feelings when my words fall short, making me feel understood and connected. It’s a constant companion that goes with me through life’s highs and lows, offering solace and inspiration. Music is the poetry of my soul.

My favourite genres of music are RnB and Rap.

Kanye West’s music is defined by seamless beats, rhythm, and impactful lyrics integrating older hip-hop influences. His self-production and innovative style have inspired younger artists, such as Travis Scott, whose work I also enjoy.

West is known for incorporating religious themes and referencing Christianity in his music. He has a controversial image but is undeniably creative. West’s collaborations with artists, from various backgrounds, including Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Rihanna and Paul McCartney enrich the depth and variety of his sound.

West’s work is characterised by moments of humour and for me, the music is a source of good energy, especially in the mornings, getting me ready for the day. College Dropout and Life of Pablo are stand-out albums.

Music brings positivity to my life, inspiring my energy and creativity

Music brings positivity to my life, social media helps me find new sounds I love, widening my musical world. However, while an amazing means of connection, social media can be addictive and detrimental. The tendency to compare myself to others online leads to feelings of inadequacy. As the saying goes, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ Your wellbeing can take a big hit!

Getting the right balance with social media has been an intentional decision for me, recognising its impact on my self-esteem and concentration levels. Mindlessly scrolling sucks you into a rabbit hole and just keeps you wanting more.

Despite the drawbacks, social media remains integral, offering a crucial means of staying connected with my friends and family. I think life would be emptier without it.

As we move through the complexities of social media, with its undeniable pros and cons shaping our lives, it’s interesting to observe how the power of storytelling extends beyond our screens.

Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for my favourite film, Interstellar, with its emotive depth and cosmic resonance, has left a lasting impact on me. It inspires me to deeply contemplate life and existence, shaping my creativity and imagination.

Exposure is a youth communications charity enabling young people to thrive creatively, for the good of others as well as themselves.

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