Jess | Mt Roskill

“I’m quite lucky that I live with lots of people. I don’t experience loneliness in the sense that I’m by myself, but I’m a counsellor, so I guess I experience it in the sense that I hear a lot of things.

I hear a lot of stories from people that I have to hold, and I can’t share that with other people, you know, because of privacy and confidentiality, and so sometimes I’ll come home and I might have had a really hard day, and had lots of, you know, quite a lot of horrid things, but I can’t share that with, with the people around me. So, in that sense it can be quite isolating, I suppose, not being able to share my experiences with others, and that in itself is quite lonely.

I guess the biggest thing I do and I recognise that I’m very fortunate in this area is that I have a very supportive partner, and you know, really good friends that I live with. So I guess with the isolation I was talking about with the counselling I reach out to people that I feel can understand that as well. My mum’s a psychologist, so even though I can’t tell her specifics about what’s happening, I know that she really can, she can really understand that sense of isolation, and feeling like you have to hold things on your own. So yeah, I guess really just finding, reaching out to people who, who I know get it.

I was born in the UK, in Bristol, and then I moved over to New Zealand with my family when I was four, and I grew up in Martinborough in the Wairarapa. There’s only about 1,000 people there. So that’s where I grew up and was really lucky to have a really great community there. I guess for me, my biggest value and the thing that really has my heart, and really drives me is people and supporting people in their journeys and really fortunate to get to work with a huge array of different people who all have these incredible stories and incredible journeys, and I guess the most important thing to me is that people are able to live their own truth, and not be tied down or disempowered or pushed down by what society expects. So, happiness and people are the most important things to me.

At the risk of sounding like, you know, a 70 year old, I think with social media and online, you almost get the sense of connection, and it is great. It can be really good that you are able to connect with people online, but I think what it can do is it can almost alleviate our inherent need or inherent sense of needing to connect in person with other people. It dampens it down enough that people aren’t making the effort anymore, in the way that they use to, to actually go out and connect with people.

If we look at what society used to be like before, we had this whole idea of a nuclear family and we used to grow up in communities. We used to live in communities, you know, it takes a village to raise a child, and you weren’t alone, because you could just pop next door or you could talk to an aunty or you could talk to a friend. And now there’s this whole idea to be successful you need to be in this nuclear family or you only live with X-number of people because if you don’t, if you live with people then it’s outside of the norm, and I think as a society have isolated ourselves from what we should, what we used to be, and what we naturally are meant to be, because humans are social, are social beings, and we’ve isolated ourselves. We’ve cut off what, you know, maybe would be best for us because we think that we should, or society tells us that we should be living a certain way, and actually it’s not necessarily for everybody, the way that makes us happy.

I think a big part of it is my mum. My whole life she’s been a psychologist. She’s been helping people and then I was lucky enough to be approached to to be a Work and Income case manager when I was in uni, and it really just opened my eyes. I’d been living in this little bubble of privilege and I knew that not everybody had that, and I knew logically that there were people that were really in need, but I hadn’t seen it, and working in Work and Income in Glen Innes it opened my eyes, and I was like, oh my God, these people are real and they don’t have the support that they need to thrive. These incredible, amazing people, and they could achieve anything they wanted to so much, but they’ve been so kind of down-trodden almost, and not given the chances that I had or the chances that a lot of peoplewho grew up in privilege had, and a dis-service I think to society. You’ve got all these people with all this potential, but because they didn’t get the opportunities that all New Zealanders should have, they weren’t able to achieve as much as they could. I guess for me seeing that, that’s what drove, me to want to do what I’m doing now, and I work with family violence and and sexual violence, and these people, these women, these families have so much to offer, but they can’t do it without support. I wanted to be a part of that support, to help people achieve everything that I took for granted, because I was lucky enough to grow up in a privileged place.”

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