Do you know the “Humans of New York” (HONY) blog? Brandon Stanton shares portraits with compelling stories on Instagram and Facebook. He started in New York, but has since done several trips. All over the world, strangers share particularly intimate stories with Brandon, about their health, relationships, wishes and traumas. You can read three lessons from all these stories below:
1. You are not alone
First of all, you are not alone. We don’t often talk about traumas, feelings and doubts. We fear what others will think about us if we share our “deepest” secrets. We are afraid of rejection or do not want any pity. But nobody’s life is perfect. On HONY you can read stories about addicted parents, bad relationships, unhealthy friendships, mental health problems but also stress because of university or insecurities. You soon see that you are not alone in what you experience or have experienced. This recognition can provide peace and perhaps courage to also share your story with a friend, family member or a psychologist.
2. Openness is contagious
HONY is a community, which means that readers are active: they offer support and understanding through the comments, sometimes organize collection campaigns and offer references to, for example, other websites where you can read more about a certain topic. In addition, many comments appear in which someone else shares a similar experience. This way, taboo is broken bit by bit around any subject.
3. We can handle more than we think
The most extraordinary and intense stories appear on HONY. Apart from the fact that these stories break taboos and help others in similar situations, they are often stories of people who have gotten out of a certain situation. They have endured the most difficult moments in their lives and have achieved something positive for themselves. These stories show how resilient we are when it comes down to it!
A preview – click on the picture to see the original post
“I see myself in my son.
I know what it’s like to be in that teenage stage when you feel the need to prove yourself. One day when I was about his age, I was hanging out with some friends after school, and they wanted to go to the mall, but I had to go back to school and work on a project. A few hours later, they all ended up getting arrested for shoplifting. When I got home, my father was crying. He’d gotten a call from one of the boy’s fathers, who told him everything that happened. He told my dad: ‘Barak didn’t get arrested because he went to school.’ My dad dropped to his knees and started hugging me, and telling me that I’d made the smart decision, and that night he took me out to dinner. Today, every one of those friends is either dead or locked up.”
“Over the past few years I’ve been having a lot of negative thoughts.
Toward the world. Toward myself. Toward other people. I’ve been struggling with chronic depression, and I think the most obvious symptom is negativity. My perception changed so slowly that I didn’t even notice. It didn’t feel abnormal. I just thought I was seeing the world clearly. I thought people were basically mean. I couldn’t find the energy to sit down with them, talk to them, and learn they aren’t bad. But watching her grow has been a revelation. She’s positive toward all humans. And everyone is positive toward her. I never know who starts it. I don’t see who begins the interaction. But so many times I’ll be on the bus or metro, and I’ll look up, and she’ll be smiling at a stranger. And they’re smiling back. And it makes me so happy. Sometimes my face hurts from smiling so much. She’s taught me how prejudiced I’d become toward other people. Somehow I’d forgotten that if you smile, people smile back.”
“He put me in the hospital when I was pregnant with her.
The next day he started crying, begging for forgiveness. He said: ‘I’m so sorry, I was drunk, I need you so much.’ So I took him back. The next time it happened, he managed to convince me that it was my fault. He said that he wouldn’t have gotten so angry if I had paid more attention to him. So I started thinking that I could be better. Then it happened again. Honestly, I stayed with him so much longer than I should have because I was afraid of becoming the stereotype of a single black mother.”
Which post has inspired or motivated you?