My high school graduates in February and we spend our second semester abroad as a class on a capstone trip. Of course, Corona had other plans. Three weeks into our trip - which was supposed to be three months - we were abruptly sent home to quarantine. The virus was running rampant and there was no way to gauge our safety. While I am SO grateful to have had prom and graduation, being home with no schoolwork, no extracurriculars, and the inability to truly hang out with friends had me… well, let’s just say SO INSANELY BORED I PRACTICALLY LOST MY MIND.

The worst part: I felt like nothing I did had a purpose. Everyone struggles to find meaning in life. The meaning of life is practically the most iconic and complex philosophical mystery, and I was left with WAY too much time to contemplate it. I started to lose sight of my value as a person since I find a lot of my self-respect in my impact on others. There was no one around me to impact. You text your friends and family, but when asking “what’s up?” or “how are you?”, you already know their answer: same old. It’s not like many of us are really out and about changing the world right now. I found myself stuck in this rut, so naturally, I took a nap and slept on it.

Then I slept on it some more.

And some more.

Okay I’m not sure a recently graduated high school senior can ever actually recover from the sleep deprivation of the past four years, but that’s beside the point. Eventually, I realized that even in these uncertain circumstances, I had the opportunity to make an impact. For months of my senior year, I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into a scholarship application for my dream school. I have never been so proud of something . In the end, I didn’t get the award, and that school drifted out of reach for me. So, while most of my heart was in the right place, driven to send a meaningful message to my peers, a part of me couldn’t help but think that there was no better f**** you (sorry Mom!) to the school and an unfair system than spreading my video and its lessons across social media to enact a small, but mighty, movement. Their loss.

I took to my Instagram and facebook to challenge my followers to go #beyondthebox. The guidelines: post any photo any photo you'd like, and caption it with the hashtag #beyondthebox . Private message three people and reveal something behind that photo, maybe you’re smiling in that selfie, but earlier that day you were in tears. There’s a lot that we don’t see in the photos people post. Challenge those three people you messaged to also go #beyondthebox . Send them this video/post and urge them to nominate another three.

As a past president of my school’s mental health awareness club, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as the “mental health girl”. I stand by it with pride, but kind of figured that people would see my post and brush it off as just another mental health post from me. So, a couple hours after I’d posted, I was awed to see the hashtag circling my feed. Friends and family, friends of friends, and even complete strangers were messaging me and thanking me for promoting the concept. Another pleasant surprise: boys were taking part too! Your mind’s wellbeing can be more of a taboo subject in some male settings. It’s just kind of how society has tended to function in my experience. My club had one official male member and like two friends of mine I’d drag along by promising them food. I was shocked. It was so heartwarming to know that people cared. People do acknowledge the superficial nature of what’s posted online. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only one who needed the reminder of life beyond social media’s boxes.

Thank you SO much to everyone who watched my video, messaged me, or took part in the challenge. If you haven’t yet, go check out my story highlight titled “mindful” on my Instagram @mia.pearce (I’m public!). Tag me and nominate another three people! It’s never too late or irrelevant to go #beyondthebox.

For some inspiration, check out these awesome posts below!


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