Interview: Akshay Badlani Is Creating A Safe Space To Heal On Social Media
Inspired by his own experience, Akshay Badlani - the founder of Still Standing Strong Stories - talks cultivating a safe space on social media and provides pandemic advice.
To begin, can you explain to us what Still Standing Strong Stories is and who it is for?
Stories have the power to heal; they have the power to uplift people when we are down or feeling all alone.
Still Standing Strong Stories is a platform for young people to share their stories. These stories don’t have one shape or form, but together they show that, even in the most difficult of situations, we can find opportunities to grow into better people.
At a time when 67% of young people believe the pandemic has had a long-term negative impact on their mental health, stories about overcoming adversity are heartening; a suitable balm to the negativity we’ve become so accustomed to over the last year-or-so.
What inspired you to start Still Standing Strong Stories?
My inspiration was my grandmother’s story. My grandmother raised six kids by herself. She lost her husband when my mom — the youngest — was only three years old. From then on, she had to run her household on her own, deciding to move her entire family from India to San Francisco. Although this was a difficult experience, she made sure all of her children were well-educated. Whenever I’m going through a difficult time, I think of my Grandmother’s story and it taps into wells of creativity and inspiration I hadn’t known existed. In essence, I created Still Standing Strong Stories because I realized – through personal experience – the multitude of ways stories can impact others.
Of the stories you’ve received thus far, is there one that has stood out for you?
It is difficult to choose just one. Every story we have published holds a special place in my heart because, at their core, they each contain a message of hope and healing.
What advice would you give to those struggling – both mentally and emotionally – during the pandemic?
We are in this together, and we will come out of this together. At this time, sharing our experiences and lending our voices has the power to heal and inspire on a wide scale. And for those in tough situations, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just remember that we’ll come out of this stronger than ever.