To be honest…with Athena Palmer

To be honest, I’m not okay but that’s perfectly okay.

Recently I have come to the overwhelming conclusion that I am not entirely happy with the current state of my life. I use friendships, work and classes to avoid the pressing issue that I am not my normal self. Instead of dealing with negative thoughts and emotions, I would rather bury them deep within me and pretend like they are not there. Because of this, I have lost sight of who I am. By using people and places as a distractions rather than dealing with my issues, I am subconsciously making my quality of life worse for myself.

In college, students are constantly pressured to have their lives together. We all know the drill: you go home for Thanksgiving break and almost immediately you are bombarded with questions, such as, “Do you have a boyfriend yet? Where are you living after college? How will you get a job with that major?” These questions, though seemingly harmless, are not always what students want to talk about.

Why is it that no one ever asks the tough questions? Questions such as, “Are you actually happy with your decision to go to college? Do you ever feel lonely? Are you scared that you won’t be able to make a life for yourself?” I think the reason people would rather focus on your current relationship and job status is because they already know the answers to the tough questions. Much like myself, they bury themselves in simple issues rather than dealing with the difficult ones.

It has taken me a while to come to this conclusion, but I have realized that it is okay not to be happy. It is okay not to have your life together. College, while supposedly some of the best years of your life, can also be some of the most challenging. For most of us, this is the first time we have truly been on our own. Because of this, it can be easy to want to rely on others for help, support and happiness. Since coming to college, one of the more strenuous lessons I have had to learn is that, at the end of the day, the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.

Being comfortable with every aspect of yourself can be challenging. As I mentioned before, we often rely on others to distract ourselves from negative thoughts and feelings. While college is great for developing lifelong friendships with others, it is also great for developing a lifelong friendship with yourself. I believe that coming to terms with your true feelings, emotions and thoughts can be one of the most powerful things a person can accomplish. It takes guts to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am not okay today.”

How do we deal with the negativity and unhappiness? If you are anything like me, you may be tempted to hide away in your room all day, contemplating an endless cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. Instead of trying to change what you can’t fix, try embracing what you can. Let yourself truly feel the negativity and unhappiness. Realize that there is nothing wrong with not being your best 100 percent of the time. Yes, it can be hard to accept situations or emotions that make us sad. Take a moment to let yourself be sad, and then pick yourself right back up and move on. Cut off all your hair, hang out at a coffee shop downtown or dance really badly to really loud music in your room. Thank yourself for always being there for you at the end of the day. Become your own best friend. Learn to fall in love with who you are, and be proud of it.

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