AwareNow: Issue 19: The Source Edition

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Page 139

PERSONAL STORY BY JONATHAN KOHANSKI

SAFETY & ISOLATION

T H E WA L L S W E B U I L D T O P R O T E C T O U R S E LV E S Ever since I can remember, I’ve avoided people, I was the “shy” kid. As an adult I’m the one at the party who migrates to the room with the least amount of people, or I slowly shrank into the corner in a feeble attempt to avoid conversation and interaction.

I don’t know where it all started exactly, the anxiety of interacting with people and what I can only describe as a fear of being judged regarding anything and everything. From my earliest memories, I avoided anything in front of people, even eating, it really perplexes me, but it’s still present to varying degrees decades later.

School was never a bright spot in my life, I disliked the quiet, sterile environment of school, it was stifling and boring. More often than not, I was more interested in looking out the windows watching cars driving by or birds flying through the sky and my grades clearly reflected this. Report cards, progress reports, and teachers surely didn’t know how to address what was described in phrases such as “needs to apply himself” “has more potential”, or the comparison to my sister who brilliantly applied herself throughout her life in everything she’s done.

Being compared to someone else throughout your youth, regardless of who it is, sends a message that who you are isn’t good enough. That success doesn’t come from finding your own strengths and applying those, but by emulating somebody else’s, regardless of whether those methods fit or not. This pressure to succeed based on conforming with the standard model of education can, and is, so destructive to those that don’t learn in the “traditional” manner. It was this lack of understanding that ultimately set me on my own course. I needed to find my own way through it, how I learned, what I was “good” at and how to make something of myself that translated to some level of success.

The walls we build to protect ourselves from external influences also prevents our light from illuminating the dark recesses of a world that so desperately needs it. A lack of support and encouragement as a child can lead to a litany of problems such as self-confidence, being able to recognize your own accomplishments, and trusting people are honest with encouraging feedback. If I wasn’t good enough then, what makes me good enough now? Even now as I receive positive feedback on writing and photography, I question my own abilities.

Am I just lucky, as I so often tell myself, or is there really something there? ∎

JONATHAN KOHANSKI

Open Water Swimmer, Photographer & MS Warrior

www.awarenessties.us/jonathan-kohanski Hi, I'm Jonathan, I'm a wanderer of sorts, looking to further enrich lives and share experiences that show we are all capable of truly amazing feats that push my own boundaries and can many times turn heads. I'm a sucker for raw and real stories and attempt to share my own, with all the good and bad through that same lens. I'm always open to finding my next adventure that will help me to continue writing the stories that can help others overcome their own demons. I'm a lover of the water and spend a lot of my free time in it, whether it be swimming, body-boarding, or taking photographs while in it. I was diagnosed with MS at the age of 25 and it has changed the course of my life, not just in a physical sense, but also in my perspective of life, what is valuable to me and worthy of my time. We all have our struggles and triumphs, I'm here to share mine and maybe, help others through theirs.

139 AWARENOW / THE SOURCE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com