On October 19th, all the fellows and mentors from Under a Tree sat in the rain in front of a firepit and threw each of their burdens into it and watched as it burned. It was recommended that you spoke out your burden, but it was not required. If you and someone else shared the same burden and one person said it out loud, you could throw your card along with them.
While at first this activity started out with feelings of self-doubt and overly high expectations, it quickly became something much deeper. While most of the fellows have felt the pressure to be perfect, have lots of friends, perfect grades, and anything else we envision the “perfect person” to have, those weren’t our only problems. While we all want to hide our problems and pretend like school is our biggest concern, many of us exposed too well the main problem we have outside of school. The way we feel about ourselves.
And my question is, why is that?
To reiterate, why do we all share such common problems yet no one speaks about it? It’s easy for us to all feel stressed and feel like our grades aren’t enough, but it got deeper than that. On that night, many of us expressed feelings of depression, suicide, loneliness.
Why is that?
Of course, I am not blaming the people that feel this way. These are feelings many have experienced and many more will, but why is it that no one helped them?
This isn’t normally a conversation. It seems as though feeling any of these emotions can only occur in a hushed conversation with your best friend or over social media under a fake name. While at school we have assemblies for college, Pitbull, our heritage (unfortunately this was removed), and even something as insignificant as Color Wars, there has never been a school wide discussion on the topic of mental health.
Why is that?
Who do we blame?
Who can we blame?
Why is it that “in 2015, there were 1,537 suicides among males and 524 among females aged 15 to 19 years” and still there has not been a single assembly in school? I’m not naming these statistics to specifically attack my school - but rather I believe they are part of the majority of schools that haven’t done anything about this. But why? Is it because schools don’t think teens are depressed? Is it because the schools are afraid of the controversy surrounding mental health? Is it because schools are “only supposed to focus on education”? No matter the answer, there is no proper justification. It costs no money or time to present information that could help these kids like the numerous suicide hotlines, depression hotlines, or mental health resources out there. The mental health of a student matters more than a grade.
Besides schools, what has the media done? There are numerous social media platforms that are insanely popular among teens yet none of them offer information on this either. How is that the platforms accept offers for numerous ads on clothes or makeup, feature news articles on celebrity divorces, and no one thought about the main age group that uses them? Everyone could benefit from a change in these platforms. Imagine if a platform sponsored a therapy hotline, chat, whatever so that whoever has feelings of depression, loneliness, anxiety, anything had someone to talk to. Sure, this costs money, but if they have enough money to hire people dedicated to creating Snapchat filters, I’m sure they can do this too. But they haven’t.
Why is that?
Going back to that night, why did we feel like the only ones? Why were we embarrassed? Why were we scared of admitting to a group of kids that we weren’t always happy, that we had struggles within us? Why did we feel like this isn’t experienced by anyone but ourselves? These struggles are normal. We all look at other people at see their best self. We see the guy with the perfect grades, the girl that could be a model, the guy that plays multiple sports. We look at them and we don’t see their struggles, we assume they’re perfect. The thing that’s messed up about this is that people think of us exactly like that too.
Why is that?
Why don’t we see past grades, relationships, extracurriculars and realize we are all humans that feel sad sometimes?
I’m angry. I’m angry that we all have felt like we weren’t enough. I’m angry that we don’t feel like we can be anything but happy. That our emotions aren’t valid. We’ve all felt like that. And no one told us it was okay to be sad.
Why is that?
Camille is a senior in the Somerset Arts Conservatory. She is the co-Band Captain of the Somerset Academy Marching Band and President of Tri-M. She is not only immensely dedicated to her musicianship but she is also a lover of academics and her favorite subjects have to do with English and History. She never backs down from learning new things and she appreciates UAT for allowing her to learn from others while sharing some of her own experiences.