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Interview with Ally Petitti: staunch mental health advocate

Interview with Ally Petitti: staunch mental health advocate

With her 2020 born podcast “Trying to Figure it Out,” Ally Petitti shares real life stories and issues with her listeners. Her guests on the program embrace the idea of opening the door to past traumas, and sharing them to receive other points of view and try to overcome them. Ally’s purpose is all here: to try to hunt down her inner monsters and hope that others get the same too. Small, but great hopes for her own future and that of everyone.

Photos (Credit – Ben Cope)

You come from a large Italian family. Can you tell us something about yourself? What was your childhood like and how do you think the mix of cultures contributed to your education?

My childhood/family life was the way my dad and his sisters grew up. You had to work and study really hard to get to the next level. My dad had such an emphasis on academics and education. I wasn’t as gifted as he was, but it was always important for me to do well and find other ways to succeed through education. I love that education is very well-rounded now. It doesn’t just reflect getting straight As on a math or history test. There are so many things that you can be a part of in school that can contribute to your education and that’s what I really focused on. I was super involved in sports and community service, which contributed to my childhood.

You have created your own podcast “Trying to Figure it Out” to share life stories, even very personal ones, with your guests. Where did the idea come from?

I’ve always struggled with mental health and I’ve always been super open about that. My family and friends know that I’ve struggled since I was six years old. I always thought it was the worst it could get at the time but then I went through some pretty rough early adulthood experiences, whether those were relationships or major life experiences. Once that happened, I wondered how it was possible that more things kept happening. It felt like one thing after another and I started to embrace this “woe is me” mentality. I sat to myself and realized that life was going to throw stuff at me for the rest of my life, and it’s up to me how I choose to process and handle that. I decided the best way to do that was through talking about these issues and stories openly with people. It was the best solution for me and I hoped it would help others. That’s when I got the idea and motivation for “Trying to Figure it Out”.

The topics are often very important such as mental health, toxic relationships, trauma etc. Was it difficult for you to start sharing such personal things? And how was it afterwards, did you feel somehow liberated?

It was definitely difficult. It’s not as difficult when I’m sharing stuff that’s just about myself, but it is difficult when I’m talking about a story involving somebody else that they didn’t necessarily choose to have shared. I try to do it as thoughtfully and carefully as possible while being authentic and real with my listeners. The hardest thing to navigate is always putting myself in someone else’s shoes and thinking about if they would be comfortable with me talking about this. At the end of the day, I have to think about the people who are important to me since I would never want someone to feel slighted when the purpose is for a greater good. It’s hard, but I always feel really, really good after sharing a story that feels like it needs to be shared. It’s a really good thing when I receive feedback that it helped somebody.

What do you hope for your program in the future?

I hope to gain an even bigger community of people that listen and people that feel seen from listening. I hope it grows for nothing other than helping other people.

You can choose a character your guest, anyone in the world. Who would you like?

It would be fun to have Adam Sandler on the podcast. I can’t really say I have one specific person that I want on. Anyone who’s willing to share something is super valuable to me. You could have 100,000 followers or 100 followers if you’re just someone who has a story to tell and wants to help others. It’s a dream to me to have anyone feeling comfortable to share something personal.

What about your free time, do you have any particular hobbies?

Honestly, family time is huge. Even though I don’t live with my family anymore, I feel like I have little traditions here in Los Angeles with my dogs, boyfriend, friends, etc. I love cooking and I also love going to dinner with friends. That and traveling are the activities I like doing consistently.

If you could say something to yourself from ten years ago?

I would give my younger self the advice of not being so hard on yourself. It’s cliche, but it’s so true. We all are our biggest critics, but I always see things about myself that I’ve been really hard on. So, I would tell my younger self that it’s all going to be okay and that everything you’re feeling will bring you to a greater purpose.

And if you could instead speak to young people of your age, imagining that everyone is listening to you, what would you like them to hear?

If I could speak to the younger generations, I would say to be comfortable in your own skin and to share what you’re feeling. I would also say ask for help when you need it.


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