“I wish someone had told me ‘It’s OK to not be OK.’”

As I stared at the graffiti on the wall, I wondered how many people have to succumb to this realization after riding the struggle bus for too many stops. Too many tears shed only to be followed by shame. Too many “fake it ‘til you make it” days, where your smile is not yet to the "making it" stage. As we are battling our own struggles, society tells us that we must be OK and have our lives together.

Starting with the question, “What we want to do when we grow up/graduate?” we are conditioned to believe that in order to be successful, we must have our life together. Society likes to be securitized within a bubble to give them ease about life. But we have conditioned a false sense of security that is causing young adults to struggle with anxiety and depression like we’ve never seen before. Especially young adults who are going into, are currently in or are exiting the collegiate field. Know that it is OK if you don’t have your white picket fence. Just a little hint for whoever is reading this: Nobody has it together! But why is it so much easier to strive for imperfection, knowing that we will never reach it? Enough is enough!

We feel its implications already. The race/struggle we are dealing with? A bi-product of being complacent in a broken system for too long. The Islamophobia America has? Results from not grieving after 9/11, and instead taking actions to try and get back to normalcy. This striving for perfection leaves a toxic residue that is capable of breaking the strongest spirits. Don’t let it. Rather, embrace insecurities that life gifts you. Let the little things light up your life and lift losses to lessons learned. When your significant other transitions to an ex, go get that package of cookie dough and enjoy that Spotify playlist that understands. The art of failure and imperfection creates a space for a broken you to become whole again, and is quite necessary.

Imagine you are in the middle of a water balloon fight and you have run out of water balloons. The first reaction would be to go and make new water balloons, not throw rocks at others instead. So why are we throwing rocks in life? Yes, life will be rocky (pun intended), but if life didn’t have its ups and downs, it would be a literal and metaphorical flat line.

I was lucky enough to have a mentor early on in life to give me wise advice on reacting to life’s curveballs. If you walk up to the plate and expect to hit a homerun every time, you will probably be more disappointed than pleased. So, instead, swing away freely and play for the love of the game. Stop holding yourself to a standard of perfection in hopes that one day it will all be perfect. Embrace and enjoy the fact that it won’t. After all, it’s OK to not be OK.