In a social media age based on ‘likes’ how do we talk about things we don’t like about ourselves? Things that are not perfectly filtered or match any aesthetic. Things that are not trendy or enjoyable to look at.
On social media we share the high notes of our lives. And why shouldn’t we? As humans we are attracted to visually pleasing things; nice food on white plates, black and white structures, puppies, acai bowls, orange and pink sunsets, well dressed groups of (candidly?) laughing friends. It’s natural, it’s not bad, but it’s also not reality. At least not all of it. And when constantly comparing your raining Tuesday morning to someone else’s Saturday night + a filter, it’s hard to remember. This is not groundbreaking. This isn’t earth-shattering news. But it’s also not an acai bowl.
Mental health issues in college aren’t something they talk about at orientation or on high school tours. It’s not something you’ll see on the colorful infographic of fun facts about your school or the well shot tv ads. But the reality is mental conditions are an epidemic in universities around the country.
One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.
When I talked to the counseling services at my university during my second semester they told me they would not be able to see me until the following semester due to the highest demand for counseling in university history. Seventeen new counselors have been hired this semester but the demand is ever growing. I’m not an expert, I can’t tell you what this says about our society or our systems but I can tell you what this means to me. It means that an issue that can literally control every aspect or your life and dictate what you do every day is underplayed and sometimes even ignored.
It’s terrifying to share imperfection. With our closest family, with our best friends, with anyone, especially on the internet. (Hi internet) Why is it so scary to admit we are human? Why is it so uncomfortably painful to admit we are in pain?
And to be perfectly honest, it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to suddenly not be “perfect”. To stray from that straight, shining, perfectly outlined path you had planned. It feels a lot like failure.
It’s hard to explain something you zero percent understand yourself. Maybe that’s why we as a society have such a hard time talking about this stuff. Because HOW do you explain anxiety attacks in public and discredit the rumors that you were having “a bad trip”?
Fix the stigma: It’s not attention-seeking. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s humanity and it’s vulnerability and it’s okay. Saying it louder for the people in the back: it’s OK.
One time someone famous said “vulnerability is power.” I think they were on to something.
I’m sharing this for the ones who haven’t. You are not alone, you are not crazy, you are doing a lot of good things everyday.
This is important and I believe in it. I believe in nice aesthetics and cohesive themes as much as the next millennial but I also believe in raw, unfiltered, unedited emotion that clings to the hairs on your head and guides the feet in your shoes. I believe in reality and not being real because we claim in our twitter bios that we are but because it is our only true choice.
And I am scared do you hear me I’m terrified that we will never be honest with each other and admit when we are not ok, not even close. Admitting that not only are we not always ok but we are GREAT/UNSTOPPABLE/BETTER because of it.