Get first in the race. Score the most goals. Have the best GPA. Beat your time. Break the Record. Do the most. Be the smartest. Get into the best college. Have the coolest clothes. Get the best internships. Don’t be a nerd. Do What ever it takes.
Why do these standards exist? I understand that everyone wants to be the best they can but, my question is, when did it stop being ‘be the best you can’ and turn into ‘be better than everyone else around you?’
The pressure put on adolescents and young adults today is outrageous. No one can be the best at everything, but why don’t parents, teachers, coaches, and other supervisors understand that?
In today’s society, a striking 1 in 4 people will have an encounter with depression before they reach the age of 24. Likewise, it is said that in the United States, at any given time, more the EIGHT PERCENT of adolescents suffer from depression. But this is not just a problem in the United States. Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages from every corner of the earth.
Sadly, there is a death by suicide every 13 minutes in the United States. I’m sure you agree with me when I say that something has to be done. Through organizations like Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention there is someone willing and wanting to help those suffering from depression and seeking an out through suicide.
This immense pressure put on today’s youth only sends one message to these young minds and that is, if you aren’t the best you are worth less than those who are better than you. That message is not only wrong, but it is so demeaning that it leads children to depression.
Other things may cause depression however, such as relationships problems or break ups, a relative, friend or animal passing, or the truth is someone could become depressed and simply not know why or how these feelings came about. Often, depression is genetic and runs in families. Knowing what you’re suffering from can be a relief in and of itself.
The minds of youth are sculpted so quickly, so why aren’t we more careful in how they are sculpted?
Schools today need more than ever to learn one thing; teach our youth to step back and breathe. Everything is so fast paced today, we never really learn how to stop studying, stop training, or even stop thinking.
Maybe schools should dedicate one day a month, for a few hours of this day, for nature walks, group talks, or seminars on how to better yourself and how to be a true friend to everyone around you. Let’s stop telling our kids to be the best and start telling them to be the best you can be. These two small phrases are so similar, but hold such different meanings.
Maybe parents should be more understanding when a single test is failed because although it is important, failing this one test isn’t the end of the world.
Maybe friends should go out of their way to compliment each other and try their best to make sure not only their best buddies but also everyone around them has someone they can talk to when they are down.
Everyone needs to have a moment to be able to breathe in the good and exhale the bad.
You are not alone in depression.
Some people find passion through their own weaknesses. Ian Lough, a junior at West Virginia University and close friend of mine, was able to speak to me about his own weakness and hopes his message can reach the lives of several others. He said:
“I think the pressure of not only school, but life itself, can become overwhelming with anyone. In my opinion, the biggest problem with mental health, especially for young people in high school or college, is the stigma that is associated with it. Those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental conditions think they will be looked down upon or perceived as weak. I speak from personal experience. I’ve hid my struggles from friends and even family at times for the past 3 years. People need to know it is okay to be not okay, sometimes. The most important thing to do is to reach out for help. This is such an important message to spread and it does take so much courage to voice your problems because it makes you vulnerable. But, with that being said, speaking out is the most important step in getting the help you need. You are never truly alone—that is one of the most important things to remember. I hope more people continue to speak out not only at WVU, but also at schools around the country to make a difference in the mental health community. These diseases are as real as any physical ailments, like cancer, and they truly can be debilitating. Life itself is hard but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Never forget, if you are suffering from depression you are not alone and suicide should never be an option or a way out. Even if you feel as if you are alone in this world, there are at least 350 million other people who can help you cope and be there for you to get you through tough times.
If you ever feel like the world is crumbling around you, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Dedicated to all of those who have fallen victim to their own depression or are still suffering.