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May 07, 2017

Written by: Hameet Sandhu // @lnstahamm

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For a majority of my adolescence and young adult life, I was told that I have a way with words; that I have the ability to communicate my ideas in a manner that manipulates the language so that anyone nearby would want to listen. I was told that my abilities to formulate arguments and produce descriptions, explanations and criticisms would have been great assets had I ever pursued a profession in radio, literature, or even politics. It was a gift, I guess - but a gift that I always struggled to use when it probably meant the most. I was selected to host the annual talent show in my senior year of high school. The show was a big deal, it was one of those events that happened in the evening when being at school felt hella awkward and you realized that your teachers existed past 3 o'clock. I did well hosting beside one of my best friends. We made jokes that got heightening laughs; we interacted with the audience like seasoned pros, I still remember it like it was yesterday. At times we even went full improv and had parents excited to be spending a Friday evening at their damn kids high-school talent show. To say the least we had a lot to say and we said it well, and people were listening. At the end of the show the principal of our school made a comment to me that would stick with me for the next 9 years to this date; “Ham, you should be on radio, you should talk, and people should pay you to do it, because, wow did everyone listen when you spoke”…

So tell me, why did it take me nearly 15 tries at typing the first sentence to this blog post? Why did it take me over 4 years to tell someone “I’m not ok, and I don’t know why”? Why do I always hesitate?

Today, the conversation surrounding mental health is mainly about ending the stigma and it encourages us to just talk about our mental health, always. I think that's great and extremely important, but tell me - is a radio host really a radio host if no one is listening?  If no one is ready to listen, how the hell am I supposed to be ready to talk? If there's no one ready to listen, someone voicing their need to be heard is just a bunch of typed words that will be backspaced over and over again.

I needed someone to tell me that they were willing to listen in order to be able to say anything. That’s all it took, one person to say “hey if you’ve got something on your mind you can tell me, I want to know.” It was as if someone had taken a pin to my balloon of pent up confusion and self doubt. Without the audience, anyone who is dealing with the challenges of their own thoughts cannot help themselves, let alone have the confidence in seeking help from others. As important as it is for people to speak of their needs, it is just as important for everyone else to listen; non-judgmentally, without an agenda. Listen to listen, not to respond. Conversation is a two-player game, in fact it’s a co-op mission, where one doesn’t win without the other winning too. No matter how well someone uses their words, and is told their whole life how well they speak, their words are empty if they don’t feel like anyone is listening. My life changed the day someone was ready to listen to me, now it's your turn.

I guess all I needed to hear was that the words I was saying had an ear.

I guess I should start typing, cause someone is always reading. Thank you for that.

Click, click, click.

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