Alicia’s TSS Reflections: In Light Of A Special Third Year Anniversary
There is the presence of a constant lingering cogitation over which life is more valuable- The one that remains here as a conscious effort to do greater good, or the one that is birthed out of that said greater good.
Over the last few years that I’ve spent working in this space, I’ve had the privilege to witness the two intertwine into something far more precious and whole, more singular and valuable than lives with distinguished separation. It’s a beautiful and painful thing to experience the connection of wounded souls that ride through the tumultuous waters together and come out victorious, and that is exactly the connection I have had the privilege of experiencing.
This is a celebration of the love I have harvested from this little social space, and something to commemorate the growth of the seeds I've sown here.
I joined TSS as a part timer when I was at the cusp of my 18th year, at which point I had been battling with anxiety and major depression for 3 years. Truth be told, I had no knowledge of either the social or eco impact TSS had sought to create. I applied for the job along with a few other alternatives without paying much heed to what working environment I would be subjecting myself to, just with the blind desire of getting into a routine in hopes that it would help with the stagnation of my depression.
Life has a funny way of making things worthwhile. The unknowing choice I made to join The Social Space is the slingshot that rocketed me into a terrifying abyss of possibilities; that with time, bloomed with hope, sorrow and everything in between.
Growing up, you hear horror stories of the working world more often than the pretty, glistening ones, if any at all. So it’s with a common bitter anticipation that we guard ourselves as we really step into society. But being in an especially vulnerable mental state, I was paralyzed not just by anticipation, but by the fear of everything else; most of all, of living.
I had been in seclusion for so long, battling only with demons familiar to me. The outside world had been so foreign and terrifying, and so applying for a job was like skipping level 2 and going straight to boss level, a reckless jump I still don’t know how to explain I made.
Here’s the pretty, glistening part that I didn’t imagine I would have the privilege to retell. I didn’t know this at that time, but joining TSS was the gentlest, most forgiving first step I could have taken into the world. I was overwhelmed by support that cushioned me as I took hesitant shuffles forward into what would be a pivotal growth spurt in my life. I can only think of comparing the experience to a child that is gingerly guarded by loving arms as they take their first steps from one parent to the other.
Perhaps as I reminisce on my early days in TSS, I filter the memories with too much of a dramatic romanticism, as I do with other memories of varying places. But as cheesy as I make it sound, if you look hard enough, you’ll find that reality does in fact tend to mirror all the pretty parts of what seems like fiction.
It is without a doubt that my intense vulnerability was lovingly plastered over with endless care and concern from those that trained me in the beginning, those who allowed me the room to try and fail and try again. With more time, or perhaps the less I focused on it, I caught myself finding more reasons to stay, and more people to love.
So begs the earlier cogitation I mentioned, of how closely intertwined we are as people and how bountiful value derives from that special connection. How 2 particular people (our main leads), whose lives are lived as a conscious effort to do good, birthed a cavern of chances for those who needed a good supply of them. And how in turn, I have given myself to be a part of the greater good after having received it. What a magnificent starburst of an eternal and unsolvable equation! How person x person equals this.
All of this is meant to be enjoyed, not solved. Life is meant to be lived, not figured out, and oh, what a relief.
As I enter my fourth year of being a part of the team, I celebrate in quiet contemplation over how far I've come as a person, shyly applauding myself for the brave step it took to peek out of isolation from the world and take that audacious leap into something more purposeful. To allow my shaken heart the room to be loved and nourished, filled to the brim with potential I have yet to see in myself, but that others place their wildest bets on.
My entire being has come to be somewhat of a great juxtaposition. Like how on earth it is possible I can deadlift a basket of bananas that are a third of my weight, but still have trouble picking up the shop phone when it rings. I have discovered so much about myself, things I like and things I don’t. But the one thing that unfailingly amazes me each time I reflect on it, is my resilience. More often than not, I sit and contemplate uprooting myself in the face of every typhoon that hits. But despite it all, I remain. A reflection of my bosses and the colleagues who have persisted through each passing storm, and have now tangled their roots with mine, holding me down and steady.
I still find it hard to acknowledge my achievements for what they are, always doubting that I'm doing a good enough job or if my value/lack of value as a person is worth accommodating for. But I've learnt to approach myself with the same lens I view the rest of my team; with a tender understanding of just how hard life can be, and just how strong we all are. And dare I say what a wonderful job we are all doing.
At some point in my journey, I paused to look back and observe the imprints I left behind, only to find that there were multiple different pairs of footprints that blended together with mine. And a scene like that only made sense, for I have never walked this path alone. Through the days I dragged my feet with lethargy, or the absolute absence of my being as I slipped into yet another disappearing act, there have been feet that walked with and for me; hands that instantly held mine as I hesitantly reached out.
I’ve dug deep into the ground of which this place has grown from, and as I stand here with my shovel in hand, I understand now just how true it is that people are what makes a place.
TSS is an unadulterated reflection of the people she nests within her wings, filled to the brim with a multitude of imperfections, rough on all sides and tangled at the roots. But in every direction you turn, you also find a chasm full of courage, hands calloused with resilience, feet dirtied with conscious care, and a heart aching with desire for purpose and good, or to simply, live.
That is what makes a person, that is what makes a place, and therefore, this is what makes The Social Space.
(Cue glorious trumpet closing song)