The first (socially distanced!) MindTerra team meeting up in Los Angeles in September 2020.
Today, I’d like to tell you the story about how a 30-day commitment for me turned into a half a year rollercoaster ride.
Back in June, while I was approaching the day I would graduate high school, I yearned for an opportunity to hone my writing skills. My parents were pressuring me to choose a major other than English for my path of study in college, because they believed (as many parents tend to do) that writing wouldn’t get me anywhere. This only fueled me even further to continue my endeavors in becoming a better writer and communicator. I was also looking for an enjoyable experience that would allow me to interact with others virtually and keep me busy, since being cooped up in the house for months was not doing my mental health any favors.
I spent a lot of my time looking for writing and communications internships; I do admit that I hadn’t known where to start, and that I was pretty much aimlessly looking around for opportunities to no avail. But eventually, I landed on an internship posting on Facebook: a 30-day Communications and Operations internship for a small writing organization called Moving the Needles.
I am fully aware that this sounds cheesy, but the second that I read their mission:
“Moving the Needles is a global platform and community with the goal of creating change and healing the world through words.”
… I got so excited. They seemed like exactly the type of people I was trying to find; their goals aligned with mine, and it seemed like a great endeavor that I wanted to get involved in.
So I did just that; I applied, and to my delight, was accepted onto the Moving the Needles team by their co-founders, Toffy and Fair. Freaking out over the 45 minute interview was worth it in the end.
My initial experience at one of their writing programs, the Writing Veranda, went better than I expected. At first, I was afraid of the concept, since writing for me was mainly an individual activity. Writing in a 15-minute period and sharing what I wrote with others seemed very intimidating, especially to an overthinker and introvert like myself. But when I actually did it, I left feeling refreshed. Happy, that people appreciated what I had to write and share. From there, through their programs, I felt firsthand the impact of how words can heal on the personal level as an activity for mental wellness, as well as act as a way to build social connections with others. The act of expressive writing as a collective activity to be shared was what made it so special; the feeling of sharing what I had to write and listening to others put their own thoughtful ideas into words always built such an invigorating energy that kept me coming back to more writing sessions whenever I could.
Throughout this 30-day experience, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know people that I would have never met had I not found Moving the Needles. Toffy and Fair, the co-founders who are now two of the most kind and powerful leaders I know. Joanna, who always makes such an amazing effort to promote mental wellbeing through the act of writing in her Wellness Writing programs. Muge, whose jokes always make me laugh, and whose creativity brought so much more to the table at Moving the Needles. And many more names in my head that I could list off, but I won’t do it because we’d be here for a long while. What I’m trying to say is, the shared community experience is another thing that kept me coming back.
Our weekly MindTerra Team meeting.
And so, when 30 days were up, and it was time for me to leave the Moving the Needles team… I didn’t. I stayed, because I felt more passionate than ever that the act of writing could truly make a positive impact on the mind.
Eventually, a big change happened: Moving the Needles refined its mission, and became MindTerra, which, lo and behold, is the name that you see today. And over the past half year or so, MindTerra has undergone so many changes and improvements to its writing programs and resources, all of which I am so happy to have been a part of.
And all of that led up to the present moment. Today, I continue to stay with MindTerra, so that I may come to Writing Verandas to write with a community of understanding individuals (and perhaps hear the next segment of ShanShan’s romance novel), and so that I may continue to form social connections and prioritize my mental wellbeing in a time of great hecticness. And between me and you, I hope that if you haven’t tried attending a Writing Veranda yet, or any of MindTerra’s other programs, that you’ll consider trying it out; it helped cheer me up during the past few harrowing months, and I think it will for you too.
MindTerra never fails to bring a smile to my face. A skill-share during our team meeting.
Linda Tran is a student at UCLA who is passionate about making social change through the power of words. In her free time, she enjoys playing the violin, reading, and binge-watching anime to her heart’s content.