Kylee’s Reflection: A Year as a Peer Mentor

by Kylee Harris

The NAN Project has brought me an abundance of self-confidence and pride in my identity. Sharing my story with others has helped me embrace my past and look forward to my future. When I was 16, I never thought I was going to make it to 18. When I turned 18, I never saw myself making it to 21. But, here I am, I made it. Never would I have thought I would be working for this amazing nonprofit that encourages me to be myself and provides me with a community where I feel safe. This past year, I’ve been able to educate youth all over MA about mental health and the importance of ending the stigma around mental health. I’ve learned that mental health is universal. 

`Everywhere in the world, people struggle with mental health, and it’s not talked about enough. The amount of youth that I have talked to that say “My family doesn’t believe in mental health”, or “I didn’t know anyone else felt this way”, has pushed me to continue my work sharing my story. One of my favorite moments from this past year has been when a student listened to my story and then approached me after saying he had no idea that so many people struggled with ADHD and that he as well was diagnosed and felt so different from everyone

 else.  I was 8 years old when I started showing signs of anxiety, and I genuinely felt for almost 10 years that I was the only person feeling this way. I struggled with my gender identity for years, also thinking I was the only one. 

Hearing students tell me they can identify themselves with my story really pushes me to keep sharing. I never thought my story would be a tool for youth to use to find comfort and safety. Working for The NAN Project as a Peer Mentor has been so meaningful to me because when I was younger, mental health wasn’t talked about at school.  The LGBTQ community wasn’t talked about. Telling my story helps me feel at peace knowing that I am providing the example I wish I had for my younger self. I want other kids who are struggling with their gender or mental health to be able to identify me as someone they can look up to. I wish I could tell my younger self I didn’t need to fit into the binary and that I didn’t need to hide how much I was struggling mentally. It wasn’t until my 20s that I found other trans nonbinary people like me. I now have so much comfort and peace knowing I am safe among others like me, and that’s what The Nan Project brings me; peace and safety. My work for The Nan Project is a promise to myself and others that no one ever feels alone.

Join our mailing listJoin Now

Emergency Help - Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988