These passages are excerpted from an editorial published in The Harvard Crimson last week. The anonymous essay, “I Am Fine,” resonated with us, and we thought you might find it interesting too.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
I filled my schedule with clubs, activities, and classes to avoid the isolation I felt when I was idle. When you’re running from one meeting to the next, it becomes easy to forget how alone you really are…. Even at school I was surrounded by thousands of other students—all of them able to manage the same difficulties that had rendered me hopeless. They wrote papers, chaired activities, networked, partied, all with an air of ease. Effortless perfection. I was the exception. I was the one who was incapable of handling all the wonderful opportunities that Harvard presented me with.
At least that’s what I thought.
One day, I decided to talk to someone… Instead of joking about lack of sleep and 20-page papers, I opened up. For the first time, I discussed what was really going wrong in my life. I told her about what had happened, the constant physical pressure that I felt on every inch of my body, the apathy with which I now looked at every aspect of my life. I told her I wanted to die…In turn, she opened up to me.
[College] is not always a place where conversations about mental health are necessarily encouraged. On a campus where the need for assistance is too often perceived as a flaw, the student body has a tendency to rely on variations of “I’m fine.” And, at a college where so many students already have far too much on their plate, it’s understandable that most don’t press the question further.
I’ve learned the importance of doing just that. I have also learned to cut back—on friendships, on extracurriculars, on classes. By concentrating my energy on the people and activities that I care most about, I have gradually begun to get past all Harvard has taken and realized just how much it can give. The most important opportunity I’ve found here is the opportunity for happiness, though the place that lies between night and Brochure Harvard holds a happiness that can be hard to find.
It’s certainly not emphasized enough how difficult it is to be a college student, especially when everyone’s telling you how great it is that you’re here. We’re given endless opportunities and urged to do anything. Somehow, many interpret this as a mandate to do and be everything. Please know, you deserve to feel like your best self, and there are people here to help:
Counseling and Psychological Services (Columbia): 212-854-2878
Rosemary Furman Counseling Center (Barnard): 212-854-2092
Nightline Peer Counseling: 212-854-7777
Office of the University Chaplain: 212-854-1493
And don’t underestimate the compassion, even empathy, of your friends.