Perhaps, The Most Important Advice... Put Yourself Before Everything Else!
My advice for taking care of your mental health while in college.
Last week, I wrote an article giving some advice to rising Freshmen and Sophomores as they either prepare to start or continue their journeys into college. And while I am content with that article and everything that I listed in it, I couldn't shake the feeling that I completely dropped the ball on a key piece of information. Something that has been with me and so many of my friends, as well as college students all around today. Something that has a lot of buzz, and yet, not enough of it — mental health.
This thought has been in my head for a week, and I now want to take this opportunity to say something that I wish someone had said to me far sooner in my journey of college, and life for that matter...put yourself first, always. I know what you might be thinking -- that you already know this, or that you have heard this SO many times before. But here’s the thing, many of us may hear this often, but some of us hear it far later than we should. Some of us may never hear it.
It IS a simple thing, and yet, it’s NOT. It takes practice. It takes some vulnerability. It requires support and companionship, even some grit and a whole lot of courage. But there is no doubt about it. Your mental and physical health should go before EVERYTHING else!
Your personal well-being matters more in the world than an assignment, or a meeting, or a class, or even a degree.
There is only one you, therefore, you come first.
Now, I am not saying to drop out of college or totally retract yourself from what you love to do because of your struggles. Rather, they should be seen as fuel to drive forward and to seek out the help and space that you need. What I am saying is this: academia...and the world...do not fully understand what mental illness is, or what it does. I learned this more and more as I went through school. There were many points of friction, and while intentions were good, the discussions, vocabulary used and actions taken just were not right.
No one knows truly what you are experiencing. Only YOU do. Therefore, give yourself what you need.
No matter what, do what you need to do. Get what you need. Never give up, and put yourself first. ALWAYS. Please. That is all I can say.