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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Gainesville observes National Forgiveness Day

Rachel Wayne stood in front of a microphone on Saturday and spoke about bullying.

She talked about her cousin who was bullied throughout high school for being gay. He had to deal with online bullying where people liked a Facebook page created for him.  

It was a story she shared as part of the National Forgiveness Day event at Market Street Pub and Cabaret, located at 112 SW First Ave., from 4 to 8 p.m. She told the story as a way of encouraging her audience to overcome the pain of bullying.

“It’s impossible to forgive yourself for the mental loops that you go through in struggling with this [trauma] if you keeping having people tell you, ‘well this happened to you because you were x or y,’” Wayne said.

“You’re not the reason anybody did this to you,” she said.

Rachel Hofer, who works for Private Reflections Counseling, LLC, a company that provides mental health counseling, decided to hold the event because she said forgiveness has been incredibly powerful in her life.

“I don’t think anybody has walked through life and not been hurt at some point,” Hofer said. “We want to validate the pain but help people to let go of that so they’re not continuing to focus on that.”

At the event, guests were encouraged to participate in dancing and the open mic, where they could speak about different topics, such as mental health and forgiveness, read poetry and perform music.

While attendance was low, Hofer wasn’t discouraged, and said she plans to do it again with a bigger budget.

“Forgiveness is just a hard topic for people to come out for,” Hofer said, adding the event was worth it.

Comedian Alyson Chadwick performed a routine to bring some laughter to the event.

Chadwick said she feels the topic of forgiveness is really important.

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“I mean, in comedy there seems to be -- in any creative endeavor, when people get into it, there seems to be -- a higher level of mental illness,” Chadwick said. “I think that we need to treat mental illness the same way we treat physical illness because it is a physical illness.”

Tannu Jiwnani, 24, who is graduating from UF in December with a master’s in information systems and operations management, attended the event after hearing about it from a friend.

Jiwnani, who had never previously heard about a forgiveness day, said she feels that it’s good people are taking initiative and talking about mental health issues, not only in women but people as a whole.

“It’s covering a large group of people,” Jiwnani said, “helping them out to live life better.”

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