Not more than a week ago I received an e-mail from my alma mater informing me that a Freshman on campus had taken her own life. Just a few days ago, my friend and fellow blogger The Black Collegian, wrote about her disturbed disgust with her own campus administration for their lack of energy and resources towards the mental health of students on campus. Nearly 2 years ago, a girl from my college went missing, and after weeks of searching the tri-state area, they discovered her remains on the rocks of the Hudson River underneath the George Washington Bridge. Students, people, taking their lives because of the stress and pressures of life isn’t a new thing, but it’s really time for us to start paying more attention and taking better care of our own mental health. In a society that is all about results it’s rare that we’re conditioned to stop and ask ourselves, ‘am I okay?’
I finished my undergraduate career just this May, coming out of the other side, holding 2 degrees, an associates and a bachelors, and while
I’m deeply proud of that accomplishment, my truest pride is that I made it out of college in one piece. I think more than awards, grades, and accolades, your sanity is the most important part of making it through school and honestly making it though life. Having your degree is important, it opens doors, it creates opportunities, and it is very much at the center of making a living; but stop and ask yourself, what good is having an open door, if you’re in such bad shape that you can’t make it through? We’re a society that is focused on end goal and results, and we neglect that as humans our capacity does have limits. For most of us those limits get pushed when we arrive in college, greeted by piles of work and endless demands of perfection. I have friends whose desire to be successful, to keep up with the demand, to survive the load, are slowly breaking them down as the stress eats away at them. I can tell, because stress almost ate me clean away. Endless hours of studying for entrance exams, keeping up with papers, a demanding boss at my internship, it was like everyone took a limb and just tugged until I popped. Balancing that was matter of stopping to find inner peace and remembering that I was no good to anyone if I was dead or damaged due to stress about my future.
It’s really important that if you feel it all coming down on you, you stop and ask yourself ‘am I okay?’ If the answer to that question is no, then you need to stop everything and seek help. We’re a generation that loves to think we can do anything and everything ourselves, but the reality is, you can’t be too proud to ask for help otherwise you may end up flying a little too close to the sun and melting your wings. Help comes in all forms, it can be as simple as having a friend who you spend an hour or two a day with, doing something you love. Everyday there seems to be a new article on productivity, and teenage CEO success stories, and start-ups that boost in the millions, and they are great but don’t let them push you to a dark place in the pursuit of success. Not every action you take has to be academically or professionally productive, doing something for yourself is a means of health productivity. Your mental health is more important than you give it credit for being. Your existence matters, your existence as a functioning and happy individual matters. As important as a degree may be, no piece of paper has more value than your life or mental being. If it takes you more than 4 years to get your degree, then let it, if it means you keep your sanity. Everyone’s timeline and experience for achievement is different, don’t beat on yourself if you’re not where the next person is, because no matter what you’re doing there will always be someone who is doing it better. That battle will be never-ending. Find self-assurance in every accomplishment you’ve made and don’t downplay your achievements. Celebrate yourself, appreciate yourself, work hard in life, but do not forget to ask yourself ‘am I okay?’
Please seek help if you feel lost, we all need help, none of us are perfect. If you’re on a college campus and you don’t think there’s enough help try here. There is help for you somewhere the first step is to ask. You can learn more about mental health in college students here.