Today, I’m going to discuss a resource that is so essential to our mental well-being, but does not get nearly enough credit: the people around us. Seems simple? It really is!
Humans are social animals by nature; it’s impossible to live a fulfilling life without having anyone to lean on for guidance or empathy. That much is a given.
However, sometimes the problem is: where to find these people?
We have all at some point experienced the feeling of not fitting in, of not knowing who to turn to for support, whether it be about academics, relationships, spirituality, anything.
While the reality is that no one will share your exact experiences, you will definitely feel better about yourself just by telling anyone who will listen about your sources of distress, whatever they may be.
I speak from personal experience here. Growing up as a super awkward immigrant child with an atypical ethnic background, I didn’t meet many people who I had much in common with. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. For that reason, I always kept everything to myself whenever I was feeling stressed or upset, while I pretended to others that I wasn’t struggling at all. That superior attitude didn’t help much with the friend-making process, and I grew increasingly isolated as a result.
Long story short, all this basically lead to me having several emotional breakdowns during my early teen years. I finally cracked and opened up to my parents. They were shocked to learn how lonely I was feeling on a day-to-day basis, and assured me that they would be there for me whenever I needed them. In turn, I was shocked by how willingly they extended their support. I had always just assumed that since both their lives were vastly different to my own, that they would not be able to relate to my problems or share ideas for how to deal with them. I could not have been more wrong.
I have since become much more comfortable reaching out to peers, family, teachers or employers whenever I need support. Now, I truly feel in control of my life, unlike when I was hiding everything, pretending to be strong but in reality acting out of fear and insecurity. Knowing that I can count on others whenever I can’t deal with everything myself has been a huge benefit to my mental health.
Some words of encouragement to anyone who feels like the world doesn’t “get” them, just like I did until recently: I know that having a bad interaction with one person might make you mistrustful of all others, but as a general rule:
Try to assume the best in people, and reach out whenever you need support
Whether it’s concrete advice, words of encouragement or simply an ear to vent to. Many people out there would be glad to offer whatever help they can, even to someone they don’t know too well. A support network for you exists right in front of you, but no one can offer you that support if they don’t know what you’re going through in the first place.
Having said that, keep in mind that: You don’t have to share any more than you’re comfortable sharing. It’s absolutely natural for different people to have different privacy boundaries. Just remember: don’t feel like you’re being prevented from opening up to your struggles or asking for help because you’re scared of what people might think of you if you do so.
Trust me, everyone has their struggles; those who look down on others for admitting to them are probably just insecure about their own.
Lastly, if anyone you reach out to is not willing to listen, don’t take it personally. Like I said above, that kind of attitude says a lot more about them than it does about you. Put yourself in others’ shoes; they might be busy or stressed or dealing with their own issues, so don’t feel bad if your problems seem minute to their own in comparison. Your concerns are always valid concerns, whether or not they seem that way to anyone else.
So in conclusion, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and to share your life experiences with others. In addition to lifting a huge load off your back, your story might just encourage someone else to come forward with a similar experience of their own.
If you are ever feel like you’re not sure who to open up to, talk to us.