*Trigger Warning* This article contains discussions of topics such as mental illness and other sensitive issues that may be triggering for some readers
If you’re a student at UConn, you’re likely familiar with the app Yik Yak, where users can anonymously interact with others within five miles from them. With the population of college students so highly concentrated here on UConn’s campus, Yik Yak has emerged as a major social platform where individuals can ask questions, leave comments, and connect with others— all under a cloak of anonymity. While this is a system that can facilitate bullying, online hate, and overall inappropriate behavior, it can also serve as a space for people to vent about their innermost struggles and concerns without the burden of their name being attached to their vulnerability.
I decided to conduct a bit of a social experiment on Yik Yak, posing a question for whoever came across it on the app. I asked users to confess something— to get something off their chest for the purposes of this article. The answers I received ranged from shocking to sad to downright heartbreaking. Most importantly, they speak to some unspoken yet universal issues that students at UConn (and likely beyond) are silently struggling with. Here are some of UConn’s confessions.
[Some entries have been edited for clarity]
- “I like my best friend”
- “Being alive is so hard :/”
- “I want to transition but I’m scared my parents won’t love me as much.”
- “I don’t know if I’ll ever tell my dad I’m bisexual.”
- “I don’t know if I really like people or just want them to like me.”
- “I’m a lesbian and am so scared to tell my friends and parents.”
- “I’m friend insecure and I don’t know how to fix it.”
- “I hate who I am and I don’t know how to fix it.”
- “I just constantly feel empty and I don’t care to fix it.”
- “I’m so mentally scared and fucked up right now and I have no one to talk to because I don’t want to annoy anyone.”
“I have no idea what I want to do in life or who I am.”
- “I don’t want to go to med school.”
- “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
- “I’m happiest alone.”
- “I know what I want to do and how to start doing it, but I can’t find the motivation.”
- “I don’t think I actually like my friends.”
- “Scared I might mess up a potentially really good friendship with a guy because my brain won’t leave me alone about the fact that I have a very gay crush on him.”
- “I’m 21 and I’ve never been in a relationship before. I’m weird af and awkward and scared I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life.”
- “I need therapy desperately and it’s all my emotionally abusive parents’ fault but they refuse to admit they’re the problem.”
- “I don’t connect with anyone my age when I’m already living in adult hell while they’re still dealing with how to put up boundaries.”
“I’m really good at making it seem like nothing’s wrong”
- “I fucked up with the only guy I’ve ever wanted.”
- “Sometimes I lie to make myself interesting but then I feel so bad for lying to people. I don’t know why I do it, I just want to seem interesting to my friends who are so cool.”
- “I’m putting my life on hold for a guy I’m in love with who is emotionally unavailable at the moment…I want to be with him so bad it hurts.”
- “I’m a virgin and I’m locked in an unending debate over whether to just fuck some random Tinder girl and get it over with or spend the time to find someone I actually care about and connect with. And everyone keeps getting older so quickly and I feel like if I wait much longer I just look like a freak and it’s honestly really stressful.”
- “I literally almost died over break and only one of my friends knows…I go to the doctor in March to find out if I’m getting better or if I need another round of treatment.”
“I don’t know if I’m happy.”
Well, if you made it to the end— and you’re anything like me— you’re probably shocked, depressed, and feeling a strong sense of empathy and compassion. You might also feel seen; a sense of relating to or even resonating with some of the struggles depicted above. This was by no means a scientific sample that is wholly representative of the UConn student population. However, it does shed some light into the psyches of students here, and some of the most prevalent issues students face at our school.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from UConn’s Yik Yak confessions.
You are not alone.
The number one thing these confessions demonstrate is that you are not alone in your struggles. No matter how shame-ridden, how deep and dark you think your secrets and private concerns are, there is probably someone else going through the same thing, if not something similar. There are many common threads running through these statements— lots of talk of relationships, mental health and mental illness, trauma, friendships, career struggles, LGBTQ+ issues, and even existential crises. Whether you authored the confessions above or not, I hope that reading some of the hidden struggles people are enduring makes you feel less alone in your own personal conflicts.
you never know what someone else is going through.
The anonymous nature of Yik Yak means that we don’t know who, or even what type of people wrote the statements above. It could be your professor, your roommate, that girl you met at the bar, your best friend, the boy you sit next to in class… the point is, you never know what is going on inside someone else’s head. No matter how ‘put together’ or happy someone seems, there could always be something going on below the surface. Because of this, we have to have empathy for one another. Be kind. A random compliment to a stranger, or even just some extra compassion for a loved one can give them the strength to fight their inner demons or even just brighten someone’s day.
College students need extra support.
The issues depicted above are serious. Like, life-altering, career-defining, even life-or-death serious, and they need to be handled as such. As college students, we are in that unique time of our lives where we’re not quite adults, not quite children, and we’re sort of thrust into independent living and freedom without any sort of ‘how-to’ guide. When faced with weighty issues like mental illness, loss, rejection, discovering one’s sexuality, etc., the default method is sort of figure it out as you go. That being said, the most important thing a college student can have in this tumultuous time is a support system. Be it your family, your friends, your therapist— prioritize finding someone in your life you can talk to about your deepest fears and struggles. If there is no one you feel comfortable reaching out to, the University has various resources available that are definitely worth looking into, including therapy/counseling, medication management, healthy living workshops and events, and more (see below for links to resources).
the power of shame.
An overarching theme of the confessions above highlights the power of shame. Author and researcher Brené Brown has spent decades researching this topic, and concludes that we are in the midst of an ‘epidemic of shame.’ Shame tells us we’re not good enough, what we’re going through is our fault, and that we’re unworthy of love, connection, and belonging. The reason that many people flock to anonymous platforms such as Yik Yak to discuss their struggles is shame— the reason these struggles are even considered “confessions,” “secrets”, or stigmatized in any way is the fear of shame. However, talking about what you’re going through, whether that be anonymously on Yik Yak or with a bullhorn in the Student Union, is how to truly address your struggles and, hopefully, change for the better.
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Yes, these confessions are heavy. But, we can take some positive things away from them. They speak to universal struggles: things that we may hide away or feel ashamed of, yet apply to so many people who are going through something similar. They speak to the importance of kindness and empathy. They speak to the need for extra support and resources for college students. And finally, they speak to the power shame holds over us— and how letting go of shame can be the most freeing thing we ever do.
UConn students can visit counseling.uconn.edu for mental health concerns. Here you’ll find individual therapy, group therapy, self-care resources, case management, crisis support, medication management, and more.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for LGBTQ+ mental health or safety concerns, call The Trevor Project‘s 24/7 Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). You can also reach out for instant message or text message support via TrevorChat and TrevorText, respectively. For additional resources for trans people, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.