For those of you who are cracking the spines of a new 2016 planner, who take every Buzzfeed quiz that has the word “perfectionist” in it, who are people-pleasers, who routinely add to a never-ending to-do list, who find it odd to have free time, who proofread and continue to re-read texts and posts after they’ve been sent and who religiously live by ‘what ifs’ and the ‘should-woulda-coulda’ paradigm, I’m right there with you.
Being busy, worrying about success and over-thinking situations have become a sort of cultural norm these days where we glorify stress and we try to take advantage of the world in the most efficient ways possible. “Watching, waiting, commiserating” with “all the small things” in life is how we not only integrate Blink-182 into our lives, but how so many of us work to achieve whatever our definitions of happiness may be.
With college being a place full of endless possibilities, and with our workloads constantly being questioned by others and ourselves, hundreds of stressed out over-thinkers are created every day on our campus. College isn’t just a place that makes us grow academically, professionally and socially – it’s also one of the times in our lives when the perfect amount of chaos is presented to us and our minds incessantly try to cope with it all. We form specific mindsets and perspectives that help us to make sense of things.
Sometimes this mental growth involves leaving the chaos, but for myself, and for so many others that I know, it’s the strict mentalities we develop that get us through these four rough years.
Many of us are on the path to becoming pro-jugglers and master multi-taskers with everything going on in our lives, but I personally learned this year that being a hyper-thinker about, all the small things can become too much. From one friend to the next and from one social media post to another, I realized just how many people around me are affected by high levels of stress, anxiety and depression because of the society we live in.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness researched mental health on U.S. college campuses this year and their study shows that one in four students have a diagnosable illness, but about 40 percent don’t seek any sort of help. They found that around 80 percent of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities in college and about 50 percent have been struggling in school because of feeling anxious.
But know, friends, if naturally worrying and stressing about life turns into a cognitive disorder like anxiety, panic, OCD or depression, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will have it for life – it is beatable and we are each others’ greatest resources. There are ways to go back to planning out your days, being positively busy and preparing for anything that might come your way – it just needs attention, time and work.
Talking through the fear and discomfort that mental illness brings isn’t easy, but it is a great way to start treating it or preventing it, if caught early. Discuss what’s happening on the inside and how that affects what you do on the outside. What do you think causes the symptoms?
Along with talking privately to friends and other peers who may be experiencing the same things, campus resources like the Counseling and Testing Center are other means of support.
From talking it through, to directing our energy to things in life other than over-thinking—like writing, drawing, working out, meditating and having fun—it is important for us to examine ourselves and our friends for the possibility of having or developing a serious mental condition.
Mental illness has a history of being a taboo subject. But with all we deal with on a daily basis, at college and with our families back home, life can be scary to manage, and people shouldn’t be suffering silently anymore. Together, we can learn to be in control of ourselves.
For more information, start at the University Health Center.