I am a Sisterhood Support Team Leader for Chi Omega, meaning I try to mentor and provide guidance to my group of eight new members. Last night I asked them, "What makes you happy?" Radio silence. It broke my heart a little bit when I dug deeper and realized that these girls are home-sick, stressed, nervous, and overwhelmed.
I tried thinking of any advice I could offer, but felt as though I am in the exact same situation. People often say that college years are the best years of your life-- parties, friendships, freedom, and more. While all of this is true, they also leave out the reality that each day brings new challenges.
There is not enough time in the day to complete everything I need and want to do. How am I supposed to keep myself mentally, physically and emotionally stable when I have classes all day, back-to-back tests, countless homework assignments, nightly organization meetings, and occasional extracurricular activities? That does not even include the basic needs for overall health-- sleeping, eating, relaxing, and working out.
The reality is that the majority of students, even those you would least expect, put on a facade to cover the fact that they are broken, exhausted, and lonely.
We are scared to open up and talk about these dark parts of ourselves because they are not necessarily our most desirable features. However, when we talk about these issues and daily temptations with someone we trust, darkness is brought into light. These conversations bring authenticity to your relationships, and in a strange way, they give you strength.
As a society we are afraid to talk about our imperfections and struggles.
In high school, I fell prey to this idea. I was in the "popular" crowd, yet I felt empty. No one knew the inner battles I was facing or the spiritual warfare occurring in my own life. I wanted to seem like I was the girl who had it all together. To this day, a handful of people know the full extent of my fight. In light of National Suicide Prevention Week, I would like to share a little bit of my testimony.
During my sophomore and junior year of high school, I was consumed by the idea that worldly possessions and situations determined how complete I was as a human. That meant when I received an honor or praise, I felt on top of the world, but when I was going through drama with friends, boys, or my parents, I was as low as you could get.
Over these two years, I would think, "It would be easier if I wasn't alive. I wouldn't burden others. I wouldn't feel like I am nothing." My thoughts often turned to how I could end my life. I thought through methods or whether I would write a note or what the impact would be.
It was a feeling of hopelessness.
Thankfully, I never allowed myself to think on this subject for too long at one time, but the thought was still in the back of my mind whenever life completely overwhelmed me. It was not something I could say to anyone for the longest time. I did not even admit to having these thoughts until I spoke with my brother LAST Christmas, two years later.
I did not overcome these temptations until I started focusing on who I am in Christ rather than who the world says I am. The circumstances that caused me to have suicidal thoughts did not change, but my outlook did.
I am made in the image of God and He created me perfectly for His purpose. I know my worth. I am enough.
Although not everyone has struggled with thoughts of suicide, everyone struggles with the emotions that leads some people to take their own life-- feeling lonely, unheard, and overwhelmed. We need to change our perspective on being open with others AND allowing others to confide in us. Sometimes a "woe is me" attitude is a plea for help and a desire for someone to listen.
When you are feeling stressed and beat down or are struggling with thoughts of suicide, find someone you can trust to confide in and do not continue to let these dark thoughts rule the deepest parts of your mind. On the flip side, be that non-judgmental, confidential person for someone else.
Check on your friends. Listen. Be intentional. Be kind. You never know what someone is really going through.
Parting words of encouragement...
"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!" -1 Chronicles 16:11
If you need to speak with someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255