Scrolling through social media, it’s easy to forget, amid the sea of edited photos and whitened smiles, that everyone has their own less-than-perfect moments. Anxiety, depression, bad days, embarrassing moments–they all happen, they’re just not publicized. Rather than ignore those moments, Baton Rouge native Katelyn Rodriguez has made it her mission to connect people through them.
“We want people to realize that it’s okay to not be okay,” says Rodriguez, who founded the nonprofit peer support group WakeUpBR in September. The organization is dedicated to creating a safe space to talk about insecurities and struggles, as well as celebrate daily successes. Since launching, WakeUpBR has reached thousands of people through social media and word of mouth and has been featured on BR Proud News and Tiger TV, and Coca-Cola has reached out to Rodriguez to sponsor a kickoff event.
As a college student, Rodriguez had an image of what a typical college girl should be like. “I thought going out multiple times a week, pulling all-nighters to study, and eating the least amount of calories per day was what normal college girls did,” explains Rodriguez, noting that after struggling with her own mental health and seeking treatment, she realized that this image was far from reality. “Through WakeUpBR, we hope to create the new normal.”
And despite still being at the beginning of the organization’s journey, Rodriguez says she plans to implement WakeUp in cities across the nation. Rodriguez and her team most commonly receive questions about how to talk to your parents about your mental health, dealing with feelings of suicide or self harm, coping with the stress of finding a job or getting into graduate school, and recognizing issues such as substance abuse and emotionally abusive relationships. “We are here for anyone struggling. We want to help and walk you through life,” says Rodriguez.
Follow WakeUpBR’s peer support page on Instagram, @wakeup_br.