"I smiled when I was supposed to and tried my best to hide what was really going on with me"...powerful words from #MHGEM, Yasmeen Furman!
What would you like people to know about you?
That I have a buoyant personality! I look at things in a positive light and work on providing the same enthusiasm for others around me. But something no one would expect is I am actually a closeted introvert! A lot of people expect me to be an extrovert because of my flamboyant and bubbly personality, but truth be told, it requires a lot of energy for me to prepare before I go out. Most of the time I prefer just being in quiet areas and listening to music or E-Books.
What philanthropic activity(ties) are you involved in?
Inspired by my mother's story I created my own non-profit organization called A Teddy's Prayer. We send therapeutic bears with heart shaped pouches with words of encouragement or bible verses to children and adults that have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused. These bears are used as a tool in therapy sessions to provide comfort, security, and encouragement to help them be at ease and allow them to break through that wall and get them on the road to healing. In 2-years we've provided over400 bears translated in the patient’s respective language, nationally and internationally to various child advocacy centers. Through its growth we're now providing bears at safe havens for sex trafficking victims of all ages.
Can you share a trial/challenge you have experienced? How did you handle it?
Fighting depression was a trial I did not seek out but has proven to be an experience that I will never forget. Being in pageantry can be a positive and uplifting experience but it's not always glitz and glamour. In 2017, competing with some amazing and accomplished women, I was crowned Miss Georgia International. When I won, it felt so fantastic and I was ready and excited for whatever opportunities awaited me. Slowly that amazing rush went away and was replaced with dread and despair. Until that point, I was always sure and confident of myself. But different events kept chipping away at the person I use to be. I didn't know what was happening. I woke up feeling empty! Then as the day went on, sad or indifferent. I was just a shell walking around. I smiled when I was supposed to and tried my best to hide what was really going on with me.
One day, my mind and body couldn't contain the enormous weight of sadness. Walking into work, my feelings and thoughts were just so loud. My body feeling numb and my mind drawing blanks. Suddenly, tears started to fall from my eyes and I was hysterical. I didn't feel like I was doing a good job, I felt weak, less than unworthy and I felt that I wasn't good enough. I dreaded that feeling, it didn't feel like me. My family noticed my personality change from carefree, high spirited and bubbly to an empty shell who barely said a word. And if anyone knows I'm rarely at a loss for words. I finally had enough. I'm truly blessed to have such an amazing support system. I told my mother I needed help. She took the first initiative and signed me up for daily affirmations. I eventually started to post less on social media and kept my mind focused on meditation and reading positive quotes daily. I took my non-profit idea and I used the method on myself. Determination, prayer, understanding, and my tribe got me through.
I lost myself striving for perfection. Trying to squeeze into a mold that wasn't made for me. And the realization finally hit me…my imperfections are perfect. This was a journey that taught me so much. I'm no longer the girl I use to be but I became the woman I chose to be.
This is my first time coming out about this trial, as it was hard for meto speak about. But there's a lot of woman in pageantry who have faced this and are/or currently going through this but have not said a word. I want to let all know whoever is battling with mental health that you are not alone and there is always a positive ending and bright beginning.
Do you have a tribe/support system? If yes, how do you feel it has helped shape who you are today?
My mother will always be my biggest supporter! From day one, she always provided me with strength to always be myself and to never falter. She inspired me for my organization and held my hand the entire way. Every time I see my mother I feel the urge to keep working hard and to create the future she imagined me to have and to create a future that she also didn't expect to be so thrilling. I thank her every day for her sacrifices, unwavering love and support!
In addition to being Miss. Georgia U.S International, Yasmeen is an Account Executive at Seni Chic, a couture fashion brand which was founded by her mother, Natasha.
An #MHGEM is a woman who inspires. She is powerful, captivating and makes a difference. She is a GEM!
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