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Mental Health

A Single Blade of Grass in a Field

I have recently watched this new Italian animated series called “Tear Along the Dotted Line” (Zerocalcare). Apart from highly recommending it to everyone reading this, I wanted to share a quote that hit me hard when I first heard it in the show and that I still recite in my head when I start to feel overwhelmed.  

At a certain point during the story, the main character begins overthinking, feeling like he is a disappointment for his teacher and the whole world. Sarah, his best friend, tells him the teacher does not really care about their grades, nor do other people judge him as a bad person for that. She then says “Don’t you realise how great this is? That you don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, that you are just a single blade of grass in a field. Don’t you feel lighter?” 

And I did, in fact, feel lighter. As a person who overthinks and struggles with anxiety and depression, my mind is constantly trying to maintain control over something that might never happen, and that is often out of my control.  

It’s the first week of the spring term at university, and I would lie if I said that I haven’t felt the pressure of coming back to Aberdeen. Having a new flatmate, going on campus for lectures and labs, and all the consequently social interactions that being at university generates. I felt I had to be ready for assignments, get back on track by eating healthy food and going to the gym, but at the same time have fun with my friends and meet new people without fearing Covid too much. Result? 404 Page not found Error. A few days before my return, my brain started unpacking all the things that could go wrong. And anxiety thrives in the “something can go wrong” state of mind.  

Plus, I tend to over-dramatize everything. My friend doesn’t reply to my text for a day? I must have done something terrible that pushed them away, and now they won’t talk to me ever again. I get a lower grade on an assignment? I could have studied more, I am a disappointment for my family, and I don’t deserve my place at university. I always feel like the responsibility is on me. That I could have done more, or I could have done better. I usually have such high expectations for myself that often the only outcome is disappointment. And people don’t talk about how being anxious or overwhelmed is physically exhausting, how the heart races, the stomach is in knots, and all you want is to feel safe and calm. To be unnoticed and unimportant, like a blade of grass. A blade of grass that doesn’t make a difference for anyone and is not responsible for all the evil in the world. 

To clarify, I don’t intend to say we are all insignificant and whatever we do in our lives is irrelevant at the end of the day. On the contrary, each of our choices is important and defines our future and personality.  

However, for a person like me, who feels the pressure of the world on themselves, sometimes it is soothing to put things into perspective and realise you did not let your family or teachers down because you submitted the essay a couple of days after the deadline. It allows you to let go of that weight on your shoulder and start practising the art of letting go and accepting.  

A blade of grass doesn’t force things, it lives its day and waits for the things that are destined to it to find it. A blade of grass doesn’t care anxiety says things can go wrong. Instead, it listens to the wind’s howl and thinks “What if things turn out great? What if everything is fine?”.  

Sometimes, you just have to be a single blade of grass in a field. 

Emma Chen

Aberdeen '24

I am Emma (she/her) and I am a Zoology student at the University of Aberdeen. I have always been passionate about reading and writing, my phone's notes contain more streams of consciousness than Virginia Woolf's books.
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