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We've all been in that situation where someone asks us, "how are you?" and the response is always "I'm well" or "I'm fine." However, there most definitely times when we are, in fact, not fine. So why, then, is the only acceptable answer to say that we are doing well? It’s because our society has chosen to deem emotions other than contentment and confidence as a sign of weakness. 


Being honest about your mental state is not weak; in fact, I'd argue that it is the bravest thing a person can do because being vulnerable demonstrates an acknowledgment of your situation. With this realization comes the opportunity to grow, move past, or get help for life's challenges. 


Another problem with the perspective that sensitivity equals weakness is that it perpetuates the long-held stereotype that women are more emotional than men and are, thus, worse at handling their emotions. Not only is this perspective dangerous because it only encompasses the traditional genders of male and female, but also puts those genders into a box. Men being called 'girly' or worse when expressing vulnerability, and women being deemed 'emotional,' ‘unprofessional’, and ‘incapable’. 


I realize that telling a stranger that you're having a tough time may not be the most ideal situation. But when someone you know and trust asks how you are doing or how your day is going, tell them how you truly feel. The conversations that happen because of this type of honesty can be some of the most transformative and relatable ones in life. 


I can recall when I chose to share the pressure I was feeling about life decisions to a boy I had been acquaintances with for a while after he asked why I had been quiet all day in class. After confiding in him, he told me of a similar situation he had found himself in the year before. Learning this made me feel comforted in that he had truly listened to me and, in turn, felt safe sharing his story. This boy is one of my closest friends since this event, and I cannot imagine life without him. Over the summer, he shared with me that I had been one of the first people he had ever opened up to with his vulnerability. This goes to show that even if you believe someone wouldn't care about the issues in your life, they could have experienced something similar and be yearning to talk it through with someone. 


Okay, so maybe you're still feeling uneasy about vocalizing the challenges in your life. Here's where I recommended the dreaded journal. I remember feeling frustrated when my friends and family talked about the benefits of journaling and how it made them better able to handle their situations. I was frustrated because I had tried to journal, and nothing ever got better. However, when I took the pressure off of myself to write every day and instead write when I was in the right place to articulate my emotions, I discovered its magic. Journaling shouldn't feel daunting or like another task to check off the to-do list. It should be an expression of self-love and self-awareness. 


The world is in literal shambles. It is understandable to not be optimistic and motivated every day. All we can do is keep ourselves and those around us healthy, grant ourselves patience to work through the tough stuff, and come out better on the other side.  


Currently double majoring in Comparative Cultures and Politics / Social Relations and Policy with a minor in Documentary Production. Big fan of movies, writing, and the Oxford comma.
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