Our Stories Can Heal: Interview With The Streets Barber
Post by Alex Wu
Ahead of our upcoming event, Our Stories Can Heal – focused around raising awareness of mental health – I sat down with Nasir Sobhani, also known as the Streets Barber, to talk about his experience and relationship with his own anxiety, a topic he remains very vocal about through his work and philanthropic efforts.
This interview has been condensed for the purpose of publication – you can listen to the full one-hour conversation and find a link to a transcript at the bottom of the page.
NAS ON HIS FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH ANXIETY
Nas: I’ve been reflecting a lot on anxiety actually and seeking professional help and going to therapy. I’ve realised that I’ve had anxiety since I was a kid, but it never actually became evident until I started actually digging in and kind of remember the past that some of the core causes for it.
With my anxiety comes a lot of safety seeking behaviours where I have to reassure myself and make sure things are okay or I’m a little bit worried that something is going to be off or something might happen unless I seek comfort or clearance by either asking or trying to get advice and stuff like that. And I do that to this day.
It was, I mean, at first bro when it was happening, I was thinking I was going crazy. I was thinking all these thoughts and things that people don’t really realise when they’re first struck with anxiety because it’s one of the weirdest feelings in the world because when you get hit with it or, not when you get hit with it, when you really experience it and it’s very fresh for you and you don’t really understand it, it messes with your mind man, where you start thinking you’ve got so many different issues, or you’ve got so many problems, or you’ve got so many demons or something and something’s wrong with you. And yeah man, it’s just a really crappy feeling. And anybody who has to go through anxiety, especially in the first few battles or bouts with an anxiety attack, my heart goes out to them, man, because it’s the worst feeling. Anxiety sucks already, but at least when you start having it more regularly, you’re able to somewhat understand it. It doesn’t make it better, but at least you’re aware.
ON DEALING WITH ANXIETY
Nas: I feel like when life deals it’s cards, I’m pretty resilient, bro, in what I can handle. But I mean, while the cards are getting dealt, that’s when I’m stressed out, confused, don’t know what’s happening. It’s a very, very weird concept bro.
Anxieties are something you’re not going to cure. It’s something that you can live with, and it’s something you can cope with, and it’s something you know how to deal with and work with and the more you do that, the better it gets. Everybody in this world has anxiety. Every single person. Anxiety’s a part of human DNA. It’s part of the mind. When I’m feeling anxious, I love to cut hair because it’s a form of mindfulness for me, bro, because I get so involved and I’m passionate about giving someone a haircut that I find that if I really put my energies into focusing on the haircut, man, I feel so much better. I feel my anxieties as well, are a lot less intense when I’m trying my best to be the most positive and happy person that I can be.
And sometimes that’s the hardest thing I could ever do bro because I don’t want to just get out of my bed because I’m so anxious. But if I force myself to try my best to make one other person happy and not for the selfish reasons of, oh, so I can feel happy, but because I truly want them to actually have a smile on their face because of our encounter or interaction.
WHAT HE’S LEARNED THROUGH HIS EXPERIENCE AS THE STREETS BARBER
Truly, if you take the time to listen without trying to just butt in or say your own opinions or views and just actually just want to hear [people] out, you realise that whatever the struggle is, everyone has something they’re dealing with. Sharing stories of hope , bro. Letting everyone know that no one’s alone. You know what I mean? Sometimes people think they’re alone with certain issues and problems that they’ve had to go through. You know what I mean? Once you can hear someone’s story and relate to them and be like, “Damn, okay, that guy went through that, so I’m not alone.
You know, when someone says celebrity to me, it just makes me cringe. But I mean that’s, it’s just how it is though. But not saying it’s how it is in regards to that’s what I am, it’s just how it is that people would think that based on a blue tick or numbers, but I’m just saying the fact that the numbers come and then the people that reach out and the stuff that’s expected from me, it’s just a lot of pressure, man.
ON HELPING PEOPLE GOING THROUGH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Nas: No one wakes up saying I want to be depressed. No one wakes up saying I want to be anxious. But if they can have someone who comes to them and isn’t trying to make them feel guilty or bad for being a certain way when they don’t want to be like that and just try to ask them, “What do you need? What do you want?” And try to be selfless in wanting to help the person out.
Here’s the Full Interview Transcript.