Your name/About Yourself?
Hi! My name is Jennifer @jenniferkriski from Toronto, Canada. I am a survivor, poetess, I support mental health, and I am fighting to put an end to the stigma and help those struggling with a mental illness to be heard and to get the help they need. I use poetry, art, and photography as a way of storytelling. By the way, I am obsessed with churros. If you have churros, I like you already 😊
What do you do?
I am studying Business Marketing and Public Relations. I hope to one day create a platform where I can help those struggling with mental illnesses. I have a passion for photography, graphic design, and fashion. I have used my poetry, and I have been a guest speaker at many school’s in community who have allowed me to share my story. I have also had the opportunity to work with various online companies to spread awareness. Currently, I am working on a YouTube channel, and blog where I can share my advice with others in hopes I can bring positivity into others lives.
Why did you get into that?
My goal is to choose jobs and hobbies that allow me to express myself, and spread positivity. When I can help people, even if it is in the slightest way. It makes me feel rewarded. Personally, I want to gain one’s respect, and trust. To be respected means the world to me, more than money could ever pay me. Creativity has always been instilled in me, I am always looking for new and artistic ways to express the ways I feel that sometimes do not have an exact explanation. There’s beauty in your imagination.
What struggles have you over come and how?
My story begins at a young age, I was 7 years old when diagnosed with anxiety disorder. In my elementary school classes I was frightened of communicating with others and making friends. I would not speak to anyone. Not even my teachers. I was too young and unaware that this was not considered “normal” behaviour. I remember being pulled out of my class in-front of the other children, they told my parents I would need speech therapy. The teacher would give us stickers for speaking in sentences. It made me feel out of place. I just wanted to be able to feel normal, and less fearful of the world.
At times, my heart started to beat out of my chest uncontrollably, I felt my throat beginning to close, chills took over my body until I felt numb.
I was told I had panic disorder and PTSD on top of my anxiety. When my panic attacks occurred, I felt as if I was about to die, I insisted my family call the ambulance. She called the ambulance, and they took me to the emergency room. I was given a mask to help with my breathing and hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics. This experience was one of the most frightening of my life. I spent everyday afterwards in fear of having another panic attack. I missed days of school, work, and turned down countless opportunities. I would even sit in my bathtub contemplating if I was worthy to be alive, and maybe things would be less stressful if I could end them. It took years to develop a positive mindset, I am still a work in progress. However, I am here to remind you that it is indeed possible to accomplish. Today, I never thought I would become the woman I am. I am strong, and proud of myself. I believe in the kindness of others despite the negativity in this world. I have come to realize that I will not let my struggles define me, and takeover my life. There’s no need to prove my worth to anyone but myself. Your character will remain with you to the end. It is not built on words, my grandmother always told me that character comes within you and radiates on the outside. Stay strong, and remember that there will always be someone who appreciates you. If you survived until today, you have the strength to keep fighting everyday.
Who are women that influence you?
My mother and grandmother are my biggest influences. The Philippines was their homeland before moving to Toronto. Life was hard, my grandmother would be hours away from my mother to work to support her family. My grandfather was shot before I was born. The worst part is. He was not the target. I will never know what it is like to have a grandfather, I wish I could have met them. My grandmother became widowed. She also lost one of her daughter’s when she was a few days old. A few years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She now lives her life with permanent reminders. Despite these events, they remain positive and humble woman. My grandmother taught me that everyone faces hardships, but the gift of life is irreplaceable and we choose what we leave behind. The impact you make in your life, and in other lives is the choices you decide to make. I am forever grateful for these women. They always look out for others, and are willing lend a helping hand for their family to live the best life they possibly can. Their strength and courage has molded me into the compassionate woman I am today.
Name 3 words to describe you best?
Creative, caring, and courageous
How has your role of a woman pushed you forward or held you back?
Being a woman can be difficult at times. We are expected to be prim and proper. Nowadays, I struggle to display body confidence because many like to shame me for it. I get put down by other women or men for showing a little bit of skin, or posting a bikini photo on Instagram. Most of the media now encourages body positivity, at the same time when someone shows confidence it can be perceived as being “full of yourself” and I stand behind motivating women to feel like they can wear, and be whoever they want to be despite the negative commentary.
How do you stay positive and focused? I remind myself daily that there will always be days when I get put down. I think of it as my fuel for fire. When I get told “you’re not good enough”, I reassure myself that one day there will be someone who appreciates me, and my work. Circumstances are everchanging, do not let them change you. One missed opportunity does not mean life is over. There are endless possibilities for all of us. Being happy everyday is not a reality for most, remember that getting to where you want to be may take time and effort but always appreciate the journey. I try to surround myself with likeminded and positive individuals who support me in anything I put my mind to. This has helped me maintain a positive outlook on life.
Any words of advice for future girl bosses following in your footsteps?
Girl, you can be whoever you want to be. Make a life for yourself first. Your mistakes are apart of your growth. If you want something, strive and fight for it with every ounce of courage you have. Have fun, be free. Live in the moment. Most importantly never forget who you are, and where you came from. Be humble, and be kind.
What is one quote you stand by?
"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."