There are many things that I wish I could have known about my mental health while attending college. I felt like I needed to hide who I was. What’s worse than being exposed to a campus full of teens and young adults who are also trying to figure out who they are? Talk about being judged. I was already going through a hard time myself, and I didn’t need the input of others about it.
But I did. I actually did need feedback. Because what I was feeling and experiencing was not normal. I needed support, and because I was too afraid of being judged or talking about it because it was different, I wasn’t able to get the help I needed. That was damaging in more ways than I knew. There are a couple of things I know now that I wish I had known while in college.
1. It’s okay to get help.
I was so afraid of speaking up about what I was going through that my journey to a better me was delayed while in college. I was also too focused on my studies and working out and being the new cool freshman. I should have focused on myself instead of how others viewed me. I could have been on the road trip to recovery much quicker.
2. More people have mental health issues than the world will ever know.
I didn’t seek help while in college for my mood disorder or depression and anxiety. I had issues, but I didn’t tell anyone about it. After I became vocal about my issues later in life, so many people came forward about their mental health problems that I never knew about. Some people were close to me, some might as well have been strangers. The point is — more people deal with mental health issues than you realize. Just because they don’t proclaim their problems to the world does not mean they are not suffering.
3. It’s okay to fail.
It’s okay to fail a class. It’s okay to fail at keeping a balanced schedule. It’s okay to fail at being a college student. It is okay to fail! Failing helps to teach us things that we would not know about had we not experienced the failure at hand. It is okay! It’s not the end of the world. Failing is a part of life, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re not perfect. You will fail at some point in your life, and most likely more than once in a detrimental way. College is as good as time as any to do so.
4. Find yourself before you find a significant other.
Ladies, I’m so serious on this. Discover who you are before you discover the anatomy of a romantic partner. It is so important for you to become independent first before you try to add somebody else to the mix. It is okay to be alone and it is okay to stay that way for a while. There is no rush to find a relationship or get married. Trust me on this. I did it all really quick once I got to college, and although I will never regret what happened, I wish it could have happened when I was a little more mature and sound in who I was. Don’t worry about a relationship until you’ve got a good one with yourself.
5. College is temporary.
Guess what?! You won’t be here forever. College is only a chunk of your life, and when it’s all said and done — doctorate or bachelor degree, whatever — it is a small chunk of your life. You will not be here forever. Those people on campus are not all your best friends. And if they are your current best friend, they may not be forever. Don’t base your life around your college experience. Set a goal beyond college. Have dreams. College is a life experience, yes, but it is meant to be an educational one. So make it just that.
6. Mental health is as important as physical health.
I focused on becoming fit in my free time while in college. I wish that I had known my mental health was just as important as my physical health. I could not be completely healthy — even if my body appeared to be — without my mind being in mental shape. So many things would have played out differently had I chosen to take care of my inner self/mental health instead of focusing so much on my outward appearance. It may take more time to get in mental shape compared to physical shape, but it is worth it.
These are just few of many things that you may address about mental health while in college. Hopefully this gives you a place to start when considering your priorities at this point in your life.