It's OK Not To Be Okay

Our college years are what I consider the most delicate years of our life. The entire experience is a transition into adulthood. Not the kind of adulthood where your grandparents give you some cold hard cash once you turn 18 and you’re allowed to stay out past midnight. Not the kind of adulthood where you can down a whole bottle of cheap wine then dance on a table in a bar that you used your fake to get into.

            The adulthood you enter in college is like no other. You finally get to leave your family and childhood behind. Good bye and good riddance! There’s so much to explore, but by the middle of freshman year you find yourself missing home. The constant move from school to home during breaks can subconsciously mess with your mental health. Where is your real home? Where are you comfortable?

            Sophomore year you come back and you feel like you OWN this place, or at least I did. Most student’s friend groups change from their freshman to sophomore year. Although this isn’t a pivotal move in the pondering of your life, it did lead me to think, who are my real friends here? Most of these people are strangers that I have given the reigns of my trust only to get betrayed. And don’t even get me started on love life. EVERYONE wants to be in love in college. I think it’s to fill the void of the constant affection we receive at home. Most relationships fail, as expected in college since nobody knows who they are and can barely muster up depth of emotion to give to someone else let alone themselves. And what happens to the poor soul who just wanted a little love? You find yourself feeling even more alone; college rejection probably hurts the most.

            Now I know I’m making college sound like a cripplingly lonely experience, when it reality it’s the longest vacation you’ll ever take. But as a second semester sophomore, I’ve noticed not just myself, but those around me, entering what I call the “sophomore slump”. It’s about to be the middle of our college careers and it feels like it just started. Who is the person we’ve made ourselves thus far? Who are the people we trust, and who are the people who hurt us? Where are we comfortable and what makes us happy? Ah, happiness, what we’re all striving for. What happens when you’re in the middle of the sophomore slump, and you don’t know what makes you happy anymore? Is it your friends, your family, the parties you go to?

            I sometimes wonder if this is when we all really grow up. Everything before college was always so systematic, even if it didn’t seem to be. Childhood consisted of school, living at home, and having fun with friends. Even though people came and went in my life and I moved schools, it was still the same general routine, and I never really questioned my purpose since it was all laid out for me. Freshman year of college obviously proved to be a difficult adjustment – as it is for anyone—but it was just the beginning. It all felt so new; entering second semester of sophomore year, it blows my mind that its already halfway over. Halfway through college, would I say I liked the person I’ve established? Honestly, no.

I tried all of the mental and physical tips and tricks out there to get over this random wave of depression and none of them seemed to work. I had to inquire deep into my thoughts and understand the root of my sadness. It wasn’t only that I was unhappy with the person I was; I forced myself to go to the gym, buried my nose in my textbooks, and made a conscious effort ot socialize with those around me. It was something deeper, something about my life was empty; a void where happiness once was. As dark as that sounds, it lead me to a major realization of life. Not the generic, “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is the point of living?”—what I was experiencing was questioning what could give me happiness in a world where everything was laid out right infront of me. I didn’t have financial troubles, relationship drama, or issues at home. I simply wasn’t okay, and at first I really beat myself up about it. Each day felt like a mundane reliving of the last, schoolwork piled up and my will to socialize suffered. I felt like ab outsider amoungst a world where everyone was as content as can be.

You don’t need a reason to be sad. We all enter the the heavy dark hole called depression, even if its in the slightest form. For being in college, it is almost expected to become emotionally fragile when caught up in the constant change. Instead of dwelling on what you’re caught up in, find the root. For me, it was the inability to find a source of happiness in my day to day living. It took a lot of sitting down and thinking to realize there really isn’t one source of happiness in life. It really is, as generic as this sounds, the little things in life. Don’t stop reading, I swear I’m not trying to be cliché at all. It really is the small things that contribute to overall happiness; feeling the warm sun as we enter spring, getting a hot mocha latte to sip on, the invigorating feeling of accomplishment after a long run or a hard exam, seeing your friends at parties, singing along to you favorite song. The fact that music can take us to past memories whether they’re good or bad, or that certain tastes or smells trigger our past; someone can tickle your arm and it feels good to you. You have a favorite dress you like to wear, and love the way you look with highlighter on your cheeks. We celebrate birthdays and new years, and sometimes we party just to party. There are events to look forward to and things that are fun.

The appreciation for these small things is what keeps us going. It’s love—the kind of love that doesn’t have to be romantic or hard to find. Its loving little things and allowing that love to reflect on our perception of life.

It is okay not to be okay. Its okay to be sad even when you have everything you could ask for. Its okay to take a step back and look at yourself and realize you might not like who is staring back at you. We’re human, we make mistakes, college is hard, and life is hard. Growing up sucks, and our parents always told us to enjoy our childhood while we were pretending we were teenagers in grade school. The sophomore slump isn’t just a catchy phrase; it’s a turning point in our lives as we enter a new decade. Being able to decipher all of these new feelings, priviledges, and responsibilities is hard, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself down in the dumps.