My name is Ryann Tanap and I currently live in Arlington, VA. I’ve experienced a myriad of failures. I studied international relations and the Middle East in college, but shortly after graduation I realized I was not on the right career path. Months of unemployment consisted of countless job interviews, rejections and patience. I jumped at opportunities to grow, including volunteering, temp jobs and a fellowship program in public affairs and leadership. My path wasn’t perfect, though I’ve had support from incredible mentors, family and friends.
This year, I joined NAMI as the manager of social media and digital assets, a new role for the organization – and a huge professional accomplishment for myself. My passion and drive for my work comes from personal experience. Since my time in college, I’ve lost close friends to suicide and substance use. The work I do is in their memory, and also to prevent future loss due to mental illness.
I believe in both the power of therapy and the arts. In college, I benefitted greatly from group therapy, where I found myself opening up quite easily to others. I also found that writing and creative arts are a wonderful alternative and allow for creative and honest expression. A couple of years ago, I started Mama Tanap, a blog that explores mental health and wellness. I also perform spoken word poetry, most recently with Armed Services Arts Partnership and This is My Brave in Washington, DC.
For those supporting youth leaders, I encourage you to be honest about your journey. Highlight your accomplishments, but do not forget to discuss your failures. It is the lessons of failure that reflect your authentic self and demonstrate growth.