Mere's Story: Becoming A Voice for Teens While Finding My Own

I met Meredith Hutton a year or so ago, but you would think I have known her for years. She has the kindest soul and a beautiful spirit, always in your corner and there to listen. I love her story and I know you will, too. She's changing this world every day.

"It's so interesting to think, almost a year and a half ago I had little interest/didn't know a lot about mental health and well-being. Now it is my life, my passion.

Throughout the past few years, I found many of my peers were coming to me for advice. I am an empath so I was always checking in with them to see if they were okay. Many kids my age are consumed by themselves and forget to see all those around them who are in pain.

And I'm not saying they're not hurting too, because they are. But when people around you only care about themselves and and you just want someone to notice you're struggling it's a hard feeling.

I guess I just didn't want people to feel the way I felt. I want to listen to people even if they think no one else does. I am determined to ensure people and teens are given a voice.

I have seen the power and pain fading from my peers when we give teens a voice and support each other.

Two years ago, 2018, I was creating my new year's resolutions for 2019. I had this ambitious idea come to mind of creating this instagram account where I would discuss issues and give a space for anyone to message me and I would listen.

The fear I had before I started this account was like none other. I am a teenager, of course I expected the bullying and harsh words. And that's exactly what I got. I got messages from boys in my class saying how they needed advice and help because there was this annoying girl in their class who was so weird. They were talking about me. When this happened, this is when I realized something needs to change.

Why are people afraid to talk about mental health? We all experience it. People think there's going to be some consequence for sharing your story and reaching out for help. But they don't realize how much power can come from it.

Regardless of what they said to me, I knew I could help people. In some way.

The self-doubt just kept creeping in. "I'm not qualified, why would people want to listen to me". But I was determined. Now, this account is the best thing that's ever happened to me.

The account I run is called @meresadvice101. I volunteer in The New Mentality group at Skylark Youth. I also volunteer at a philanthropy organization called SVP Teens.

I am from Cambridge, Ontario. I have lived here my entire life, although I have moved to five different houses and two different high schools! I am 15 years old and currently finishing 10th grade. I transferred high schools this year to Galt Collegiate Institute. I came from a private school that I had attended since grade four. I transferred because I put a huge amount of pressure on myself, I was constantly stressed, and I wanted a change (new environment, new friends).

I have four older brothers, which has surprisingly come to my advantage in my life. I have learned to defend myself and feel confident in my own skin. Although, I would say that their methods for helping me develop those skills were a little questionable! I also have the most amazing mother, sometimes I am shocked a person as good as her exists.

My personal life has definitely driven my work in a lot of aspects. I grew up with a narcissistic, abusive, alcoholic father. My mom and I escaped last year and now are happily living with no contact to him. So, this has encouraged me to advocate for those living in abusive homes, especially with COVID-19 going on i've been extremely concerned about those in my community.

Personally, school was my only way to get away, to come home and sometimes lock myself in my room for hours to hide from my dad. Or to hear the constant screaming downstairs, sometimes because of me.

To anyone who is in a toxic living situation right now, my heart goes out to you.

My personal life has connected to my work in others ways. I struggle with body image and food issues so that has made me want to advocate for that. My work is inspired by issues I face everyday and I think other people do too, like: caring what people think, anxiety, toxic friends, a need for validation and more.

Personal life is my muse of my work, I am always observing around me, seeing how people behave, how i feel, noticing what I am struggling with and what my peers are struggling with. Then I make a video about it. We must start the conversation.

This is why my work is on instagram; because I want to stop creating the perfect life image. I value discussing challenges we face, no matter how small.

One big one is knowing your own worth. I love discussing this because I struggled with it for so long. I think this stems from my dad. I had to come to the conclusion that I deserved to be treated better. In my work it's really important to me to talk about everyday problems we face as well as anxiety, depression and suicide.

How do I become my best self? How do I stay happy consistently?

These are questions I face on the daily. Some things I am currently working on is: having boundaries and not feeling guilty for it, discovering who I am (without being who I think other people want me to be!), and loving myself. I am doing this by, writing daily gratitudes, writing poetry, affirmations, writing five things I love about myself each day, and discovering what makes me happy.

The next steps for my work is just to continue to create content and maybe expand to other platforms. I also want to reach out to like-minded individuals in the community. In the future I would love to run and event about mental health, maybe with help from the wise Olivia Miller!

She has done countless amazing things for the community and I want to be like her. Olivia always includes me in her initiatives and I couldn't be more grateful. Thank you Olivia for doing so many amazing things and just being such a down to earth person. (*Olivia sobs and grabs kleenexes.*)

Helping others has helped me heal myself. It's also one of the best feelings in the world when someone opens up to you and shares their story, which people have started doing since I started this account; including myself."
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