NOTE (06/13/2014): BRAND NEW (Confidential) Facebook page for Project Happiness: https://www.facebook.com/groups/projecthappinesstn/
WHO I AM:
I’m a transplant from an incredibly small, rural town in east Tennessee. I’m just like you, living an ordinary existence while hustling every day to procure something bigger and better for my future.
In October of 2011, I fell madly and deeply in love with an amazing woman, whom I had met through an online dating site. Our romance began as a long distance relationship for our first 10 months, living 118 miles a part. Upon graduating college the following year, I secured a job near where she lived and instantly made the jump to the greater Nashville area in an effort to further develop our lives together.
Since relocating to the middle Tennessee area, there have been many more opportunities to expand my horizons, whereas in Jasper, Tennessee (which is where I'm originally from) there wasn’t much other than a Wal-Mart and a couple of fast food chains to pass the time. However, moving from a town with only 7,000 people and moving away from everything I’ve ever known to a city with more than 20,000 people has proven to be difficult at times. Despite the challenges, the move has afforded me a new life with an abundance of opportunities.
Without going into too much detail about my childhood or my upbringing, all I can say I was given so much, yet had so little. Despite struggling through early adulthood, I’ve made strides in the last couple years of my life to overcome my social anxiety and depression.
Since upon being down here, I’ve been reflecting on my time here on this earth and my future and what I truly want out of it.
And among those many thoughts is the urge to be involved with something bigger than myself, to give back something I’ve always wanted for myself.
And so here it is: Project Happiness.
PROJECT HAPPINESS’ MISSION STATEMENT:
I created this group as an opportunity for people located in the great Nashville area/Middle Tennessee area (Brentwood, Franklin, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, Nashville) who are shy or socially anxious to get together and share their experiences and offer each other support in a safe, non-judgmental setting.
As any person with social anxiety can attest to, we’re always in a state of self- reflection. We’re always in fear about how others perceive us. While this is typically a drawback for those who are socially anxious, another and more positive aspect of it is how such a state of self-reflection yields more consciousness, awareness, and thoughtfulness within us. Not only with ourselves but toward other people as well.
That’s why I believe this group will be work, because we’re all looking for someone else that will be willing to listen and understand us.
Still, it amazes me that with nearly 20 million people in the world who suffer from anxiety, there is little to no awareness toward coming up with treatment and support for those who struggle with their mental health.
I’ve met so many wonderful people online, and the beauty of it is that it brings people together who normally wouldn’t ever cross paths in everyday life. I believe it will be powerful, albeit surprising to see the "faces" of social anxiety. It's you, it's me, it's your neighbor across the street, they're everywhere, whether we realize it or not.
Meetup says I’m an organizer, and I plan on fulfilling that responsibility to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day, you all have a say in this and I want us all to do this together. I’m interested in hearing your opinions, suggestions, and even your criticisms, provided they’re constructive.
When this group expands, I want to encourage members of the group to get involved in planning and helping host future meetups. Hopefully, it will promote and influence others to start their own meetups.
Also, one question that a visitor may have upon visting this page:
Do I have to suffer from social anxiety or any other phobia to join the group?
The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT.
People of all levels of introversion and extroversion are welcome to join our group. If you are someone that feels lonely or left out, or are just looking to make new friends, then this is also the place for you.
As someone who used to be very shy, I know what it's like. I know how difficult it can be to take that first step exiting your comfort zone. Therefore, one of the many purposes of this group is to make that first step as easy for you as possible.
Meanwhile, I hope in our time of bonding, we can also plan on doing some fun activities together as well, like going to the movies, eating out, bowling, etc.
PROJECT HAPPINESS FYI:
Our meetups are typically centered around meeting at a private or public place to engage in a round-table discussion about battles or victories over social anxiety, depression, or other challenges that life presents us with in day-to-day life.
As of right now, we meet up one day of the week with discussions. Personally, I believe if we meet up more often on a consistent basis, particularly every week, that it will help speed up the process in establishing more comfort and familiarity with one another. As mentioned before, I want to include fun activities as a way to progress camaraderie and further establish a positive and welcoming environment.
For the time being, I'm currently brainstorming more times, locations, and activities to accommodate others who may not have the benefit or time to come check us out.
The intention of the group is to give you an outlet to express yourself and not feel so lonely or left-out by meeting people who share similar experiences and who could empathize and relate to you on some level. It is my hope that it will empower you to try to make friends inside and outside the group, as well as provide you with the confidence to confront what's exactly troubling you in life.
PROJECT HAPPINESS RULES
- It’s important to note the group IS NOT designed to treat, diagnose, or cure anyone of their problems. I certainly hope the group will be able to help you in some way, but if there are bigger issues that need to be addressed, then please let a health-care professional or someone important to you know. THIS WILL BE A VERY INFORMAL, OPEN SETTING!
- What is discussed and shared among the group is privileged and confidential information. NOTE: And yes, ONLY MEMBERS CAN SEE POSTS AND FELLOW MEMBERS here. Otherwise, it's completely locked out to everyone else.
- If you cannot make it to a meetup and have already RSVP'ed, please UN-RSVP ONE DAY IN ADVANCE so that someone else can have an opportunity and enough notice to be able to come in.
- Our community is a community that seeks to promote love, understanding, and acceptance, regardless of our differences. Please treat one another with respect, allow others to speak, don't force yourself or your opinions onto someone else, etc.
- However, you may offer positive, polite suggestions or words of encouragement.
If you don't get anything from this experience, at least get this:
You are loved and someone cares.
I so look forward to meeting all of you.
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