My experience with Sonder has been a crucial one personally. Ever since hearing about the student-led organization on campus, I was immediately intrigued. Thankfully, I had a friend already involved on the exec board who was able to get me connected. Even going into my first meeting I was immediately greeted by some of the friendliest, most accepting people I’ve ever met, and I’ve grown deeper friendships here. Sonder is always a safe space for Concordia students and it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable.
The Meaning Behind Sonder
“What does Sonder mean?” is a question we get a lot. The definition of the word is “the realization that everyone around you is living a life just as complex as your own.” Everyone has vastly diverse life experiences and deals with just as much as the next person. Every person you walk past in the grocery store isn’t just another person in your story. They have their own story with struggles, successes, obstacles, and a million things going on. That’s a big part of what Sonder stands for — sharing those experiences and ending the stigma surrounding them, as well as continuing toward equal access so we can all experience life together.
My first draw to Sonder was the mental health aspect. I’ve struggled with mental health issues and a learning disability my whole life, and I’ve been through a whirlwind of diagnoses and treatments as we learn more and figure out what works for me. I grew up knowing I was different and not always feeling OK, but I never knew how to explain what I was feeling enough to ask for help. It wasn’t until the last year or two of high school that I was able to find people who understood and provided resources for me. Late diagnoses can be an adjustment, and school can be difficult while still learning how to manage and figuring out which accommodations are helpful. There are times when it feels really isolating and it can be difficult to ask for help or support, so as soon as I heard there was a group for people like me I felt like I needed to check it out. I’m beyond glad I did.
You’re Not Alone
Sonder has helped me meet people who have had similar experiences to mine, which is the comfort I needed to feel less alone in what I was going through. People often say, “you’re not alone,” and you see videos online of people telling their stories and maybe they resonate with you, but it makes such a difference to make friends and spend in-person time with people who get it and can be an actual physical shoulder to lean on. Sonder members have a safe and validating approach to sharing our stories and being a support to those who need it. We also aim to make Sonder a really good place to learn. As much as we relate to each other, we have plenty of differences, and this is a space where we can ask questions and learn about different perspectives and things we don’t experience firsthand. It’s open and judgment-free. This is where you can talk if you want to or just listen, and that support and those conversations are so important on a college campus. Sonder is welcome to all whether or not you have a disability or struggle with your mental health. We want to foster a safe and open community where people can discuss these issues and provide support for one another.
Events and Topics
Sonder has hosted a variety of events since its founding a few years ago, advocating for students who struggle with their mental health and/or have disabilities. Our goal is to make campus more accessible and to normalize conversations surrounding these topics. We’ve done tabling events in the atrium and led many discussions on various topics such as chronic illness, relationships and disability, service animals, and so much more. We also like to show up at various campus events with resources and education, and we often put together sensory experiences and self-care kits. Sonder also shares support and statistics on various topics on our Instagram page, which also includes lots of resources for those who need them. It’s an easy and accessible way to make sure people can find the information they’re looking for, and we’re always listening for student input.
If this sounds like the place you want to be, all are welcome and we’d love for you to join us. This semester, Sonder meets from 7:30-8:30 p.m. every other Monday. Follow our Instagram for updates.