Hometown: Batavia, IL
Current Role: Licensed Professional Counselor & Gymnastics Coach
Nominated By: David Voland
Reason for Nomination: Anyone who knows Josh is lucky to have met him. He is a role-model for hard work and is a force of stability in a world full of chaos. He demonstrates sincere humility by befriending everyone around him and by celebrating their accomplishments. He cares immensely for others and makes it a top priority to make someone else’s day brighter. Josh is also a wonderful teacher, coach, dancer, gymnast, creator, counselor, friend, and supporter. He is skilled and driven, yet humble and kind. Josh is open and ready to talk to anyone about his struggles and experiences with mental health, racial injustice, and more. From Josh, there are valuable perspectives to gain and much to learn. Nonetheless, he is always there to listen, love, help, and understand.
A Short Bio.
Josh Boyd is one of a kind. He gives his entire mind, body, and soul to the people and passion projects that matter most to him. In doing so, he aims to make the most of each moment, large and small. Josh also deeply believes in vulnerability. By sharing his truth, Josh hopes that he can help others deal with theirs. He also believes that knowledge can spread understanding in a world that boasts more polarity and confusion than love and listening.
Born an hour drive from both San Jose and Sacramento, CA, Josh was raised primarily in Batavia, IL, a far western suburb of Chicago. The son of a cop-turned-college-president and a homeschooling-mother, Josh learned hard work and dedication from an early age. Josh’s parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and to finance their own dreams. As Josh remembers, “My dad was a cop, then moved on to working 2 or more jobs at once while getting his masters.” Meanwhile, “my mom homeschooled all 5 of us boys, while working nights and always making sure we were fed and taken care of.” All to say, Josh and his four brothers quickly learned what it would take to realize their dreams—they learned to live relentlessly, with great heart, passion, tenacity, resilience, commitment, and love.
After graduating high school, Josh attended Waubonsee Community College and then Northern Illinois University (NIU). Initially, Josh dreamed of becoming a surgeon but later switched to psychology, a path he imagined would better suite him. And it did! Three years after his NIU graduation, Josh returned began his Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at National Louis University in Chicago.
Today, Josh works as a counselor in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs. His work feels rewarding, as it affords him opportunities to listen, support, and guide others through difficult moments. In doing so, Josh realizes that listening is one of the most important aspects of his job. Having personally navigated some pretty dark moments, Josh knows the value of kind, nonjudgmental listening ears. And thus, he earnestly strives to give that to each of his clients.
Outside of work, Josh stays busy with his hobbies and passions, including but not limited to: podcasting, writing, blogging, and spending time with loved ones. A long-time gymnast, Josh part-time coaches gymnastics to children and youth. A renaissance person, Josh also works to create life coaching programs for “athletes, dancers, and anyone looking to change their life story.” At the end of the day, though, Josh knows how to laugh. When looking to lighten the mood, he enjoys “Eating food like [the] Cookie Monster and translating things into Ermahgerd—his favorite language, a language he speaks fluently.
Q & A: The [Not So] Serious
BB: Hi Josh! Thank you for being so generous with your time. I am super excited to learn more about you, and I hope others feel the same…Imagine there is a Boeing 747 outside, waiting to take you anywhere in the world right now. The pandemic has ended. Money is not a constraint. Where are you going? Why?
JB: Japan for the culture, architecture, and food. Or Ireland for the music, history, and landscapes.
BB: Josh, you work as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). What population do serve? And what do you most enjoy about working with this population?
JB: I work with all ages, but my favorite population is teens, followed by children and young adults. Within that population, I love working with those on the autism spectrum. People on the spectrum are so misunderstood in society, and if we listened to them and understood them instead trying to change them we’d all see them for the beautiful and valuable people they are.
BB: How has your work as an LPC taught you about your own mental health?
JB: Part of me getting into studying psychology was the experiences me and close friends had with our own mental health. Because of my access to research through school, I’d study theory and modalities to help myself and my friends. It was through that process that I began to understand myself and accept myself, and started the healing process. It was like performing surgery on myself, which I highly recommend no one does, but I somehow survived and made it through some hard and dark times. Looking back, I wish I got into counseling sooner! Getting my bachelor’s and master’s in counseling and becoming an LPC has taught me how important it is to seek out help and connection when living with negative mental health symptoms or disorders.
BB: What have your mental health challenges taught you about what it means to be human?
JB: It’s taught me that everyone has things they struggle with, and everyone could be better with help. Going through life alone is possible, but it’s much better in close proximity to those that you love and love you back.
BB: Finish the following sentence. The world would be a little better if everyone listened to a little more of _____________ (this musical artist)’s music.
JB: Stevie Wonder or Max Richter
BB: Josh, you go by the moniker “The Informer.” What does this phrase mean to you? And / Or how do you see yourself as an Informer in everyday life?
JB: It started as a fun way to make Facebook statuses. Posts used to immediately follow your name, so my status would read “Joshua Boyd informs you…”. Eventually, as I got into the world of academia and felt inclined to share my thoughts and opinions more openly I created a page called Josh The Informer. There’s a concept in psychology we call “Wise Mind”. Most information we consume is either emotionally charged, or presented like rational science even if skewed. The Wise Mind is acknowledging our emotional minds and rational minds, and addressing both with our words and actions. My goal is to take a wise mind approach, and present information rationally but in a way that is still engaging to our emotional selves. I could say more, but I think the two quotes below sums it up nicely.
There’s a danger in the internet and social media. The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don’t have to think, you just have to get more information – gets very dangerous.Edward de Bono
We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.E. O. Wilson
BB: When looking to laugh, who or what do you turn to?
JB: Other than pulling a cookie monster or speaking in ermagersh, sometimes I watch Vine compilations or think about my favorite comedy, Three Amigos.
BB: Since we are in an election year, imagine that you are running for President of the United States. What one or two issues would you most strongly campaign on?
JB: Increasing funding for schools and school programs, especially in lower socioeconomic areas, as well as increasing our access to healthcare, mental health services and community organizations.
BB: Imagine it’s Friday night. You have just finished a long week at work and are looking to relax, have fun, and blow off some steam. What are your plans for the night? And who would you like to spend this time with?
JB: I’m an introvert, so I like to recharge by spending time alone and gaming, watching movies or TV, or reading fantasy books. If I’m feeling social, I like to go to hang out with a small group of friends and talk through the night.
BB: Tell me about a recent moment when you felt proud to be you. Why do you think you felt this way? And what does this moment say about you?
JB: After the murder of George Floyd, I felt it important to educate people on everything going on. Growing up in the suburbs, most of my friends are white. I felt somewhat obliged to go Josh The Informer and share as much as I could to educate, share black voices, and foster healthy discussion. A symptom of my depression is an ever-present imposter syndrome, and I am proud that I was able to push through that and do what I could to speak on sensitive topics. I doubt myself every day, and these moments helped me remember I can make a difference even when my depression tells me I should stay silent and my thoughts aren’t worth sharing.
BB: What do you most enjoy about being a gymnast and gymnastics coach?
JB: I was a gymnast myself, and the things I learned from gymnastics have carried on into my life. Gymnastics is an individual and team sport that requires mental and physical strength. It’s also one of the hardest sports in the world. I learned a lot about resilience, overcoming fears, setting and achieving goals, all while having a blast learning how to flip and traveling with my team and family.
BB: Imagine you are buying groceries at the store. The shopper in front of you and the checkout worker stumble into a conversation about race and Black Lives Matter (BLM). The shopper, a white person, expresses that, “Black Lives Matter is racist towards white people.” This shopper then goes on to explain that, “All Lives Matter.” Normally, you might hold your tongue—but, as a black man, an informer, and someone living in a time of societal racism and racial unrest—you choose to speak up. How will you respond to that shopper?
JB: I’d like to pull a smart aleck move of taking one of his groceries, having him complain, and then saying “All groceries matter, why complain?”. I wouldn’t actually do that, but I would at least explain the concept to him as such. “If I took one of your groceries here, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it, and then went about my day while blaming you for it, would you be mad about that one item? Now imagine I was behind you in line every time you shopped and did the same thing. You go to the manager and their reply to your complaint is “all groceries matter”, how would you feel? “All” of your groceries can’t matter if even just one of them is systematically being taken out every day. You would fight for that one item until it had the same respect as all of your other groceries. So, saying black lives matter isn’t anti-white, it is saying we want the same opportunities and treatment as whites.”
Then I would take one of his groceries and smash it.
But not really. But I would want to. When I get to my car I’d probably be shaking from anger and emotion and then write an article about it at InformerNet.com 😉
BB: What advice would you give to a white person who is wanting to be a better ally?
JB: Listen, learn, educate, persist. Listen to black voices and civil leaders, learn about the history of systematic racism in America, white privilege, and current ideas to bring change. Once you’ve educated yourself, educate people you know. That may mean sharing stuff on social media, but also having hard conversations in person. Many black people are sharing great content, but the people that need to hear it most likely aren’t friends with us on Facebook, and don’t follow us on Instagram. It will take white allies educating other white people. And finally, persist. The world is listening and watching right now. There are plenty of ideas on how to change the system and we are on the precipice of change. But this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Being an ally can be exhausting, and please rest when you need it, but continue to stand with us and use your resources and privilege to help.
BB: Imagine you and three famous people (dead or alive) are holed up in a Trans-Siberian Express sleeper car for the eight-day journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. What three people would you pick? How would you pass the time?
JB: Normally, I would say my late-grandfather, Jesus, and Bill Gates. In these times though, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
BB: What three foods could you not live without?
JB: Skittles, sushi, and tacos.
BB: With modern technology and social media, it seems really easy to perceive others’ lives differently than they occur. Given this phenomenon, what do wish the world knew about you that they might not already know?
JB: I have to be active daily in staying on top of my mental health. I feel like I don’t deserve to be featured in articles like this. I don’t feel my voice means anything in the long run. I doubt every day that putting so much time into trying to help people and change the world is worth it. I still regularly wonder if my life matters at all. But in questioning that so often, I also have to find answers just as often as to why life is worth living and the world is worth changing for the better. I say this so that if anyone reading this struggles as well they can know they aren’t alone and that living a meaningful life is possible even if you deal with things like depression every day. You matter, and you can make a positive impact on the world around you. It is worth going to counseling, and the light in you can outshine the darkness.
If you interested in learning more about Josh, or following his content, you can follow him at the following places: facebook.com/joshtheinformer, @JoshTheInformer (IG), or at InformerNet.com
Author’s Note: Rays of Light is a blog dedicated to spreading positivity, recognizing everyday servants and role models, and allowing others to be vulnerable and share more of their stories. These words are found as they were written. It was such a joy getting to know Josh through this process. His authenticity, positivity, compassion, and care for others is so refreshing. Josh has approved this feature’s content.