As young adults we love to commiserate with one another about how busy we are, how broke we are, how tired we are. While none of these is necessarily desirable, we wear these struggles like badges of honor — they’re just part of what it means to be a young, hungry, ambitious Millennial or Gen Z-er these days.
But one similarly almost universal struggle we’re not so quick to post to Facebook about is that of mental health. For most of us, the personal brands we’ve created for ourselves dictate that we take our jampacked, student loan-filled, uber-competitive existences in stride. Letting it be known that sometimes the demands of our lives can be too much — and that it takes a toll — can feel taboo to share.
A common struggle
The reality is that mental health is something virtually all of us deal with at one point or another, and often, continuously. In my years working with college women and young adults, it’s become apparent to me just how many of us have these kinds of struggles.
Maybe it’s anxiety that creeps in when you get to college and are surrounded by so many smart people and you don’t know how you’re going to get the same grades you did in high school; or depression that sinks in after a relationship ends; or an eating disorder that manifests itself now that you’re out of the house and in charge of your own food for the first time; or any of the myriad personality disorders that often come to light in one’s late teens and early 20s, exactly at the most inconvenient time.
Maybe it’s some combination of these challenges, or maybe you don’t even know what it is, you just know something doesn’t feel right. Whatever it is, no one should feel that they need to keep these concerns so close to the vest.
We’re in it together
Everyone struggles with mental health in one way or another, and admitting you have a problem or need help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a sign of strength that you care enough about yourself and your well-being to know when you need to take care of yourself by letting others in.
If you’re feeling like you need help, don’t be afraid to seek out resources, whether that be professional help, counseling, talking to loved ones, calling a peer hotline or letting your friends know what it is you’re dealing with. More likely than not, once you open up, others will open up too, and you’ll realize you’re nowhere near alone in dealing with whatever it is.
Your mental health issues don’t need to define you, but opening up about them is critical part of taking ownership over your well-being and taking the best steps to make sure you’re set up to tackle all of the challenges, ideas and goals you want to pursue for that busy, broke, tired life we all love.
Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Co-Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Her Campus Media, [email protected]