Life Can Be Hard

  Life can be so hard sometimes, and that feeling of despair can be amplified at the beginning of a school year, and even more at the beginning of a college year. Whether it be the stress of sorting all your classes, creating new friends, living independently, or leaving your family and friends back home, that stress is a lot to handle by itself. When it is layered on top of an existing problem or becomes a problem by itself, it can be so difficult to get through. Everyone has the right to be heartbroken over any problem they are facing; the point of this article is not to help you, “get over something,” but to remind you that you are not alone in your pain, and to let you know about the resources on Mason’s campus.

You are not and never will be alone

  Many people find solace in the fact that they are not alone in their struggles, and find comfort in knowing they are not the only ones on the planet struggling. It can be difficult to realize that your position is not unique, especially on a college campus and on social media, (both of which college students are surrounded by) because there is a guise of happiness in both worlds. 

  Whether it be cheery Patriot Leaders, enthusiastic faculty, or thousands of students excited to be starting college again, there will be a lot of people showing their happy faces almost 24/7. Social media has turned into something that only projects happy or good vibes out of the need for likes and follows. Either way, the appearance of struggle, pain, and real problems can seem erased. 

  Those going through a hard time are extra aware and subconsciously seeking someone or something to be giving off signs of struggle as well, to identify themselves with. When the place we are literally living in, or our escape (social media) is almost completely devoid of it, we automatically think that there is no one to identify with, and that leads to feelings of even more loneliness and despair. 

  But we have to remember this universal rule: there are always those struggling, always those dealing with burdening problems, from some degree to another. You are not and never, ever will be alone, you are not the only one dealing with something tragic, you are not the only one hiding your pain, you are not the only one seeking for others to understand you. There are so many people in your shoes that have dealt with a situation and came out the other end.  

Resources

  Thankfully, there are many resources on campus to help you through these difficult times. They are not all sponsored by the school or completely, “medical.” Some, that can be the most comforting, are the people on campus. Joining a club that meets up or hangs out together often, with whom you have close bonds, can be a great support and group to confide in. The more people you confide in (if you are comfortable) the more chance there is that they, too, are secretly dealing with something and would like to share it.

  Professors and faculty can be great resources, too. Chances are, if someone is working at a university, they enjoy interpersonal connections and genuinely care about the student body. If you feel a connection with a professor, club leader, or faculty member, you can ask to take a moment and talk about what you are going through. I am an incoming sophomore and I have already made connections with three of my 10ish professors and confided in them, cried, and laughed with them. Worst case scenario, they will tell you that they are busy but hopefully direct you to another resource. 

  Essentially, take time to seek out evidence that you are not alone. Connecting, talking, sharing, and just knowing of someone else sharing a burden alongside you can be very reassuring.

Healing

  Healing is a difficult and fluctuating process and personally, I hate the word and its implications. How can dealing with the loss of a loved one ever be compared to the process of bodily “healing,” where skin and tissue cells are literally genetically programmed to fix themselves? There is no guarantee that the human mind can ever heal and fix itself from a permanent loss, or to go back to normal after high stresses and trauma. 

  My personal advice would be to stop promising yourself healing, because if you are not able to “heal,” you will grow frustrated and angry with yourself, and start questioning yourself. So, the first step is to stop promising false things to yourself, but instead to focus on coping. Coping can be healing, for those who think they can learn to heal, or it can be methods to use when extreme sadness, anxiety, guilt, etc. set in. They can be breathing exercises, mantras, physical activities, whatever helps clear your mind. 

  Next is to gain perspective for your problem. If you are dealing with someone’s loss, you can explore honoring their legacy. If that’s not making you feel more at ease, do not worry; there is nothing wrong with you. There is never one solution that works for everyone. Try thinking about existence, and generations before you. See if you can reach out to someone who was equally as hurt by that loss, and form an emotional bond of confidence and support, to, again, remind you that you are not alone. Religion and faith can put life and pain into perspective, too, if that works for you. 

  If these are too formal or even time consuming, watch some YouTube videos! There are so many videos of loss, heartbreak, and sadness out there that are very personal. Seeing people online that seem happy but are carrying around sadness can console you and also remind you that those who are going through pain can have moments of happiness. 

  Now would be a great time to end off by saying, “things will get better.” But frankly, for some situations, they never will. But YOU can get better at coping, you can get a better support system, you can get a different perspective on life that can improve your situation. If your situation is not temporary, your coping skills can make it seem temporary, and your happiness will return.