It's Okay to be Not Okay

It’s getting to the point in the semester where everything seems to be falling apart.

No matter how hard we have tried to keep everything balanced between classes, clubs, and social lives, our plans are crumbling before us. Right when we can finally start to see Christmas break, we are bombarded with papers, projects, finals, and so much more. It’s overwhelming, and it can take its toll on us. There are so many times when we want to curl up in a ball and be an emotional wreck, but we can’t. There isn’t enough time to be distracted by petty emotions. We should just suppress them until break, when we actually have time to wallow. It sucks, but that’s just the way things are. You aren’t fine, but make sure nobody else knows. Keep everything to yourself, and it will all work out in the end, right?

This is absolutely one of the biggest lies society has to deal with on a daily basis.

There’s a stigma in this country that tells us that emotions are weakness, and weakness is failure. Crying is only for the privacy of your bedroom, and that’s only if you have it planned into your schedule. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t exactly plan when I’m going to feel so overwhelmed that I have a breakdown.

As Americans, we have to be strong and resilient. We have to beat the odds and succeed, no matter what emotional toll success takes on us. Mental health is regarded in one of two ways: it’s either a disease that you should take a pill and forget about, or it’s something you should just ignore. We have to put up this constant façade of composure and stability while we face the world. Succumbing to our fears means losing, and that isn’t an option. You’re fine, and anything less than that is unacceptable. This is all just the surface of a tangled standard that society looms over us to be perfect all of the time. I’m pointing all of this out for one reason…

It’s okay to not be okay.

Everyone is stressed, so why should we all have to hide it? Not everything can be worked into a schedule, especially when it comes to mental health. It’s not healthy to take all of our stress and anxiety and shove it down to tell ourselves that we’re fine. All of that pain is going to surface eventually, but the longer we suppress it, the worst the blowout will be. When it comes to situations like these, you are your first priority. It’s perfectly acceptable to back out of an event or stop working for just a little bit to confront your internal being and recollect yourself.

There is not a single human on this planet that has never felt emotionally drained. With this said, why can’t we be open about our struggles? It stems from this desire for pride and success, but the truth is that none of that comes without strife. Our anxieties and stress are part of a much larger plan that will lead us to where we need to be, but we have to get through it. By trying to hide or ignore our struggles, it’s almost as if we’re trying to skip a step. That seems nice an all, but it doesn’t work. We need to take a minute to face our emotions and get them through our system. We aren’t robots, so they are always going to be there. That’s just part of life. By choosing to ignore them, we are trying to become something we aren’t. We’re all human.

The fact of the matter is everything is a distraction. Even when you try to ignore your stress so you can keep studying, there’s still going to be a little voice in the back of your mind that’s overwhelming you and taking some of your attention from the material. By dealing with our anxieties initially, we are able to extinguish those little reminders and focus solely on persevering and getting things done. When you are overwhelmed while trying to finish a final paper, it’s going to show in the quality of your work. If you just take a minute to collect yourself and breathe, though, you are going to have much more focus to create a remarkable work.

The person you accidently bumped into in Starbucks yesterday is also on the verge of breaking. The girl that sits next to you in class spent two hours crying over the weekend and has felt guilty for wasting that time ever since. Even professors have seemed to lose all motivation by this point. Every person we encounter is going through the same thing we are. None of us are okay, but that’s perfectly fine. When thinking of physical health, everyone gets sick at some point. There’s no avoiding it, and for some of us it happens multiple times every season. How do we treat it? We get help. It isn’t seen as weak if you go to the doctor and take an antibiotic, so why do we treat mental well-being in the exact opposite way?

You’re allowed to cry, scream, and even shut the world out. Take a minute for yourself and exert those emotions in any way that helps you. Your emotional well-being is just as important as your physical one, so take the time to better yourself and just feel. Most of us are stressed, anxious, and broken at this point during the semester, but we’re all going to get through it. No matter how many times during the next month that we have to wallow and breakdown, we are still normal. We’re all going to get through the semester and finish strong, but even when that’s feeling kind of impossible just remember…

It’s okay to be not okay.