“Could you please tell me the reason why you failed your math final?” Aryanah’s mother asked.
“It’s because of the Pandemic. I wasn’t motivated and I don’t like online schooling. I don’t get to see my friends. I feel lonely,” Aryanah replied to her mother.
Meet Aryanah Oldenburger, our July Dandy Lion Youth of the month. She just turned eighteen years old this month. Like many teens, she has been anxious to go back to the way it was in 2019.
We are all lonely now since the lockdowns began, and using terms such as “social distancing,” “self-isolation,” and “shelter in place” have become our themes for conversations. Last month I held weekly virtual forums for students looking for tools to equip them with the mental-health threats involving COVID-19.
It was evident in talking to the students that they started seeing a future with reduced social contact. They had anxiety, and the Pandemic froze their lives.
Loneliness can be categorized as follows:
1. Interpersonal loneliness – Where a person perceives themselves as cut off and feels socially isolated. They often ask, “Do I have someone I can tell my challenges?”
2. Existential loneliness– Individual begins to question Mortality. “Does my life have meaning, purpose, mission?”
3. Societal loneliness: Feels excluded or rejected from a group or community. “If I enter a room, is my arrival both welcomed and anticipated?”
4. Cultural loneliness – A person feels disconnected from their culture. “Do I belong?”
Studies indicate most people who are lonely will not proactively reach out to others. Of course, the concept of loneliness existed long before the Pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, loneliness became more highlighted. As people stayed isolated, many became lonelier as they missed the human connections such as saying hello to the Tim Horton staff while buying their favorite beverage or the human interaction one gets as they walk in the mall and on and on.
We don’t need the Pandemic to show that we care about others.
However, another effective tool to combat loneliness is doing more for others. This makes us feel content and alleviates the feeling of loneliness. Unfortunately, the Pandemic also curtailed volunteering opportunities. With restrictions being lifted once again, my Dandy Lion, Aryanah, shared some of her thoughts in this regard.
During the podcast Authenticity Series: The Dandy Lion perspective, she shared one of her memorable volunteer experiences.
At age 14, Aryanah volunteered with her school to go on a trip to Belize to give back to the community. Belize is known as the second-largest barrier reef globally, and the country is a magnet for snorkelers and scuba divers. Aryanah went to Belize to help the community build Aquaponics. Aquaponics is a method used to grow fish and vegetables using the same infrastructure; they use a biological fertilizer that the fish produce. The water goes through a filtration system, and the plants grow without using soil. It’s very efficient and natural with no pesticides.
HOW I HELPED FEED THE COMMUNITY
Aryanah spent time each week for nine days with the Belize community growing the food. The Aquaponics made it possible to produce a lot of food in a small place and feed a large community of families. She was taken aback by how little they had and the gratitude they showed. Aryanah left a legacy. She will never know the impact she made on them.
‘YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR LEGACY WILL BE BECAUSE YOUR LEGACY IS EVERY LIFE YOU TOUCH.’ – MAYA ANGELOU
“We have an abundance of food here in Canada. Yet some people find reasons to complain about not having enough of everything. When I was in Belize, I was blown away at the big smiles and gratitude they shared with the little they had.” Aryanah stated during our interview.
Sometimes we tend to compare ourselves and wanting more.
“IF WE ALL THREW OUR PROBLEMS IN A PILE AND SAW EVERYONE ELSE’S, WE’D GRAB OURS BACK.” – REGINA BRETT
THE EARLY YEARS
Our Dandy Lion of the Month Aryanah grew up in a family that cultivated happiness. Her parents gave her tools for self-managing by using positive affirmations, appreciating connectedness to one another, and practicing gratitude. They taught her to appreciate the little joys of miracles of life, such as the sun rising every day. Aryanah grew up with a growth mindset.
BULLY ME NO MORE
Though Aryanah grew up in a loving family, it did not shield her from being bullied at school. Being 5’9 inches at age 15 was ammunition for her schoolmates to make fun of her. She had terrible acne on her face, more pronounced than the typical girls her age. A group of girls made fun of her and even told other students that she had chickenpox. They made her life miserable. Her parents taught her to accept those uncomfortable sad feelings because they deepen our ability to appreciate the joy in our lives. No one has the right or permission to hurt anyone with mean words. And especially for something they have no control over.
Aryanah knew the only way to fight back was to self-love and ignore others’ opinions. Though a challenging journey, she knew she would have to journal her feeling and look in the mirror daily to self-love. With patience and time, it worked.
FAST FORWARD TO 2021
Guess what, mom? Aryanah shouted in joy. Her mother quickly ran to see what was happening. “I got accepted into the Faculty of Nursing.”
Aryanah turned her initial failures at school into success – going from upside down to right side up – and passed. She committed to studying and asking for help. She needed to improve her marks to get accepted to University. I asked her during the interview how she did it:
“These are the steps that that worked for me,” she replied:
1. Always take Reasonable Responsibility for why you failed.
2. Ask yourself why you failed.
3. Don’t get stuck in the same position. Look forward.
4. Use failure as your first step to success.
Aryanah is working to pay for her post-secondary education. She is also consistently looking for other volunteering options. Be sure to listen to the full podcast as she shares details on her journey.
A question for Aryanah:
What does “to be authentic” mean to you?
“To be unapologetically you. Make you ‘happy’ no matter what the repercussions, good or bad.”
Contact her via Instagram at:
Listen to the podcast in full: I Failed, But I got Into Nursing.