If you find that you’re in a less-than-ideal position as this semester closes, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. You’re more valuable than a grade and your worth is infinitely higher than any test percentage. You’re valuable because you’re you, and you exist. Inherent in that sentiment is the fact that your value has nothing to do with my opinion, or this article. These words don’t give you value. It’s something that you have, and something that is most valuable when you recognize it in yourself. I’d like to add that it’s also okay if you have trouble recognizing your own value. You don’t have to be a perfect unicorn beaming with confidence all the time. But if you’re ready, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your grades are faltering, please reach out to a professor or tutor. If you’re homesick and feeling alone, reach out to a friend and let them know where you’re at and what you’re feeling. If life feels like too much to handle and your mental health isn’t where you’d like it to be, reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) or another counselor.
It takes a certain level of strength and awareness to ask for help. Renowned social researcher and storyteller Brene Brown explains that the courage to admit that we can’t handle everything on our own takes vulnerability and trust of those around us, knowing the outcome is not certain. I see that courage every day on campus around me. For some, it’s the courage to get out of bed despite injury and illness. For others, it’s the courage to speak out against the overwhelming majority. For most, it’s the courage to show up every day and try, regardless of the outcome. When a few cards don’t fall our way, it can sometimes feel like the entire deck is stacked against us.
In “Tattoos on the Heart,” Gregory Boyle writes that “God so loved the world that He thought we’d find the music in it.” While I know this doesn’t directly apply to everyone, I think the sentiment rings universally true. There are many things in this world worth caring about and putting effort into, and your own mental health is one of them. As the “stress generation,” we tend to get into the mindset that stressing is caring, and that both are essential for our future successes. Planning for the future is important, but what’s the point of existing if we don’t enjoy it? You are just as valuable now as you will be in ten years, and your current happiness is just as valuable as the future you’re planning for.
Mental health isn’t something we often like to talk about in the open. It’s still relatively taboo. In an effort to seem “whole” and “unbroken,” we mask our pain. We pretend we’re alright, breezing past feelings that are out-of-place or difficult to understand. In a culture where traditional “masculine” traits are overvalued and traditional “feminine” traits are cast aside as inconveniences, admitting that we have emotions, and that we can’t always control them, can be a difficult thing to do. This creates a society where everyone is pretending to be totally okay, falsely isolating those who truly aren’t. As we reach the peak of the semester, when classes are wrapping up, clubs are hosting final events and stress is at an all time high, I’d like to encourage everyone to take care of themselves. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “In 2013, nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older (18.5 percent) had a mental illness in the past year; 4.2 percent had a serious mental illness; and 3.9 percent had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.” Whether you’re dealing with serious mental health issues or just feeling overwhelmed with the semester, there are people and programs in place to help at MSU. You’re valuable, important and worthy of benefitting from the resources around you.