By Soksambath Pichny,
Marvin Herbring/2017/CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel completely overwhelmed, useless, worthless and insecure? Everything just feels so heavy like you’re lifting the weight of the whole world.
Realizing there are only two months left before 2019, you feel stressed out because your once-ambitious 2018 resolutions are still there and you have no idea what you have been doing for the last 10 months. There are too many things you have yet to achieve and you don’t really know what to do.
Believe it or not, every one of us has experienced these feelings at least once! Especially us, the youngsters. Adolescence is somewhat a very critical leap from being a child to an adult, and mental issues tend to start around this age as well. Our lives look like a series of crises actually, whether it’s about studying, working, body image or identity. So, why?
Family expectation is one of the problems. Having gone through generations of war, our parents don’t really expect their children to have stress, depression or anxiety at this early age. They have gone through physical trauma, and so they think we’re very fortunate for not having to experience those tough times. Of course, they’re right!
But, because of this, our mental well-being often goes unnoticed just because we’re physically healthy. It’s mostly about what you can see outside; it’s all about the physical pain like toothache or a broken arm. Our parents tend to value physical health more than the mental one.
They also believe that we can achieve so many other things given the better opportunities and peaceful living conditions. They set the bar high for us. We’re built to see successes as the ends of everything, and failures as very unpleasant and results that must be avoided. However, it’s shown that when children don’t experience failures at a young age, they tend to be more depressed when they become adults.
Social comparison is also bad. We’re now living in a fast-paced world where everyone’s supposed to accomplish a lot of things at the same time just to “keep up”. Everything becomes more competitive, and if we can’t get those achievements, we would more or less feel excluded.
Studies also show that the younger generation experiences more perfectionism. As the term suggests, it’s about perfecting everything about ourselves whether it’s having a higher education or better jobs. We pressure and set the standards high for ourselves, which sometimes are impossible to achieve. This can lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
We love to seek for validation and acceptance, and we also compare our lives to others’ a lot. The existence of the Internet and social media allows us to do just that very easily too. Those posts you see on your Facebook or Instagram of gorgeous bodies, that fancy vacation or new iPhone. That great job or internship, all the impressive achievements, and the list goes on.
You then look in the mirror, contemplate your life, and start questioning yourself, “What am I doing with my life?”.
Social media allows us to set standards for our lives and urges us to seek for perfection, from beauty to achievements. Once self-doubt starts to bog our thoughts, our self-esteem tends to go down as well.
So, how can we deal with this kind of social pressure?
- Talk to your family about your burdens
Instead of just being moody around your family after you arrive home, maybe start telling them about how your day went, whether it’s your work or studies that have been hard on you. Let them know that you’re struggling as well because sometimes they might not know what you’re experiencing if you don’t tell them.
Even if they might not have gone through the exact same thing when they were your age, but at least they could use their own experiences to give advice and help you look at the problems in a more positive way. They could also be more understanding and supportive.
© Burnt Toast Creative/2018/CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
- Be more skeptical when it comes to what you see on social media
Most of the time, even for ourselves, we let others see ‘what we want them to see’. Behind all the glamorous filters and brand-name hashtags, we put up things just to get likes sometimes.
We like to create an attractive online presence by posting things that look good or nice. This means that we show people only some parts of ourselves —not the real us, not the problems in our lives, or our failures. We all have stuff we wouldn’t want to share on social media. So, when you see those posts, stop and ask yourself, “Will these likes and followers prove my real capability or who I really am?” Or “What if that person who seems to ‘have it all’ have also failed many times and have other problems that we don’t know of?” So, try to be more aware of the hidden truth behind the posts you see! The next solution is to…
- Know your own limitations instead of just simply seeking for perfection
Accept that we’re only humans and nobody’s perfect! We all have flaws and failures. We can’t just achieve everything we want. There are always problems and obstacles. It’s totally great to strive for self-improvement. But it’s not great to strive for perfection, and worse, if it’s affecting yourself physically or emotionally!
Let go of your perfection by accepting that life is not always sunshine and rainbows. We will get rejected and disapproved. Not everyone around us is going to like or love what we’re doing or who we are. And the mistakes that you think are so unforgettable might have already been forgotten by other people! So, take it easy because not everything is always a big deal to others as you think it is!
- Let it out!
Turn to your close friends or family and tell them about your feelings, rather than keep them all to yourself. Talk your stress, burden and worries out! You somehow would feel better when you let it all out. Remember the phrase we normally hear, “Keep it all in too much and you would explode!”? Well, I believe that we wouldn’t literally “explode,” but we would turn to other unhealthy solutions like physical self-harm, which is totally a no-no!
You can also turn to social media! These sites can be a place for you to express your burdens. You might be surprised to see other people who actually have the same feelings as you. By sharing and talking, not only can you ease your own mind, but others’ as well. We would then feel that we are not alone!
So, that’s all! From now on, be more open to your family members about how you’re feeling so that they can understand your struggles too! Let them know that although you might not have experienced the same difficulties but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other problems. Also, be more aware of the filtered posts on social media and always grab a friend whenever you feel like you want to let it out! Thank you for reading this! See you in the upcoming blogs and have a very nice day!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.