This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what's inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer's storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Vashawn, a customer of our CubeSmart store in Brooklyn, for sharing her story with us.
From an early age, Vashawn Turner loved to perform, taking on different personalities and identities to entertain an audience. When things were going wrong and her family seemed stressed, she knew instinctively that she could help by making them laugh.
"I was a class clown. I love to mimic people and acting always made me feel free. I was just born this way—it came natural," she says.
Vashawn studied at Barbizon acting school and had just graduated two years ago when her plans to go professional were derailed by personal issues.
"I had a mental breakdown. I suffer from depression, and I realized that I wouldn't be able to pursue my acting career for a while."
These days, Vashawn gives back as a peer counselor, working with mental health patients in New York. She helps remind them to take their medication, see their doctors and set personal recovery goals. The work has been inspiring, both for her own recovery and also for better understanding human nature.
"As an actor, it's important to hear other people's stories. I found out that a lot of actors and actresses I admire, like Angelina Jolie, have depression or mental health diagnoses like bipolar disorder."
The work can be challenging sometimes, she says, especially when it comes to not getting attached to patients. Some of the people she's met have committed suicide, which has been extremely painful.
"Some people get better and some are so far gone, so stuck in illness you can only help them cope day by day," Vashawn says.
For her own part, Vashawn's biggest challenge is saying no and remembering to keep the focus on herself.
"I'm a people pleaser, and if I don't watch out, that can land me where I was, feeling depressed. So I just try to do something small for myself every day. Today that thing was coming here to get clothes."
Vashawn, who considers herself a shopaholic—"I got that from my mother"—mainly uses the 945 Atlantic Avenue CubeSmart self-storage facility as an extension of her closet. In her unit are boxes and bags of clothes, shoes and accessories, mostly sourced from thrift stores.
"I live on the Lower East Side, but I had been storing a lot of my things at my cousin's house. There was a confrontation in her neighborhood and her house was shot at. I didn't want to go back to her house and she is now staying with a friend so I had to move my stuff here," she says.
Vashawn swings by whenever she needs to change her look. Today, the weather snapped into cold and she came to unpack her thermals. Fashion and makeup are important to her, she says, another way of expressing herself creatively.
"I usually like to mix it up. I might wear ripped jeans and boots and a top from H&M one day or a punk or vintage look another day. I'm inspired by Village style. But you can consider me the panther chameleon. I can change and adapt to anything."
We’d love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.