Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, from October 7th to October 13th. The World Health Organization recognizes October 10th as World Mental Health Day. They hold this day, as per their website, with the “objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health”. As it stands today, mental health has often been stigmatized in various countries and cultures.

It’s a matter of biochemical changes, specifically within the limbic system, that influence our rationale and our ability to cope with stress. It could be a result from the death of a loved one, losing that prized career, a breakup, or failing a class. Everyone struggles with mental health, to some extent.

So I decided not to post on October 10th, a Wednesday. October 10th has become a day for me to sit down and reflect on the year thus far. So I sat down with Mama Kaur, drinking some masala chai, and thought about my own experiences within the past few months.

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I don’t smoke, and I drink sparsely. My Friday and Saturday nights are, more often than not, lifting weights or reading a book in bed. I’m usually asleep by 10:30 P.M, and I wake up to exercise around 6 A.M. I’ve had to change my entire workout routine from the past 3 years, because I haven’t been reaching my potential. My academic school year is challenging: I’m taking 18 credit hours this Fall semester, and then 21 in the upcoming Spring. I keep up my posts on this blog, to develop my writing skills. From the outside looking in, even my friends think I have my shit (mostly) together.

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In the past 7 months, I’ve ‘talked’ to three girls. (I’m told that my ‘douche-y’ personality makes people think I’m a fuckboy, and that I actually have time to talk to girls.) For the purpose of your entertainment, I’m going to name them ‘Sam’, ‘Cat’, and ”Ryan’.

‘Sam’ had just ended a relationship with a guy caught flirtatiously texting other girls, and wanted to celebrate being single. After meeting through a mutual friend and editing my blog post, we began flirtatious commentary. However, we both quickly realized it wouldn’t develop any further. So now we just exchange Snapchats, where I just send pictures with stupid faces and exceedingly dumb captions.

I sent her a Snapchat once, to which her friend replied. This friend basically called me a ‘loser’ and that ‘Sam’ was much better than me. It didn’t phase me much because I’ve learned, through repeated practice, how to block out negativity. That, in itself, has greatly helped my mental health. However, this replied message served to inform me of ‘Sam’s’ choice in friends, and I am grateful in that. Insulting someone you barely know (or unnecessarily) isn’t ‘savage’, it’s a severe lack in manners.

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The second girl, ‘Cat’ (see the bottom few paragraphs for details on her), and I actually went on two dates. After thinking that it was over, she invited me over to watch Game of Thrones. So I traipsed my way over, thinking we’d be two friends watching a show. Until she held my hand, and then I kissed her. (Don’t worry, other than the show, everything was PG.) Our schedules couldn’t adjust and so it was called off.

I appreciate ‘Cat’ because of her amazing ability at communication. She could’ve easily ghosted me, because that’s easier than dealing with an awkward conversation. However, her decision to respond showed maturity and respect. She was brutally honest and forthright from the very beginning, which I absolutely admire. For the purpose of my mental health, I hope I meet more individuals with her mindset.

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The last and final girl, ‘Ryan’, happened last week. Some background is needed for this one. I had met ‘Ryan’ in 2013, through a mutual friend in our residence hall. She considered me “white-washed” and avoided me. To say the very least, I don’t think she found me attractive or even wanted to be my friend. Fast-forward to last week where she slid into my DMs (after a gym selfie post), mentioning my tattoos, and a conversation briefly struck.

I didn’t see this conversation heading anywhere. After all, in the past, ‘Ryan’ was the girl who seemed to ostracize me. She was part of a certain group, and my opinion had formed to never associate myself with them.  I went straight for the comments about Ryan’s past negative perceptions of me. I don’t think she liked that very much, but I commend ‘Ryan’ for her level-head throughout the conversation.

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It doesn’t matter whether any thing succeeded with these girls mentioned above. I was once told that you should always be 95% happy. Your significant other adds the remaining 5%, only enriching your life through challenging conversations and meaningful moments. But even still, in order to develop, you should be ambitiously chasing your goals and creating new challenges.

This past Saturday, on October 13th, I had my high school reunion. (Yes, I’m old. I know this. Stop reminding me.) I had driven up to New Jersey go see my family, and this was something I could fit into my schedule. Family was loving, food was amazing.

Suddenly, I started to worry. High School Kam was timid, awkward. He was skinny, but also somehow fat. (I couldn’t do 10 pushups in a row to save my life. My first mile time was around 10 minutes.) He didn’t know how to flirt and fumbled with words, if they weren’t on paper. His outfits were atrocious, and he certainly wasn’t the smartest among his graduating class. So how would everyone perceive me now?

So I went into the bathroom, ready to take a shower before this stressing ordeal. As I had my shirt off, I noticed something. I’ll admit that I take a few photos every now and then, to monitor body progress. But this was the first time I took a critical look: there was a substantial difference in my physique. I took a video and then thought about posting it to social media. But I panicked even more. Would it be in poor taste? What would people say? This was meant to a body-positive thing, to commemorate how far I’ve come from that dork-ish kid in high school. I was only hoping to motivate others.

Do it

I reached out to my amazing friend Eryn, one of the creators of the podcast Bad B*tch Banter. She reminded me that social media sustains itself through criticism. People critique pictures all the time, either ‘liking’ a picture or scrolling past. If my post wasn’t insulting anyone, then it’d be fine to acknowledge my success. If people could post pictures of themselves partying or having expensive cars, then why was it so wrong for me to post a video on something that I’ve sacrificed for? So I posted it and then went to my reunion, confident that if I had the audacity to post that public video then I could definitely face everyone at my class reunion.

The reunion for my specific class was held in a small tent outside the high school. (We only had about 100 people in my graduating class). People were all gathered in small groups, and I found a few people that I knew well. I found myself pretty confident, happy to see everyone again. I talked to everyone that I could. But whenever the ‘career’ topic came up, the majority commented on how much they HATED their job. Specifically, using the word ‘hate’. Only a few were excited about their current career choices.

It quickly made me realize just how ridiculously happy I am. Everyday, I wake up attending the classes I want and succeed in getting my GPA higher. I lift weights, read, and write. I have an amazing social circle. Admittedly, they party a lot more than I ever do but they’re inherently good people with goal-driven hearts.

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Maybe I appear as a fuckboy, or just arrogant. I’ll take it; I’ve been with gorgeous girls, with stellar personalities. But someone else’s perception isn’t necessarily my reality. I’m friendly to everyone, without any intentions. After hitting rock-bottom, I’ve learned that things can always be worse. As my wise friend Charles Kmet once wrote, this too shall pass.

I don’t care to impress anyone. I usually leave parties early. There isn’t any girl I’m interested in (which upsets Steve for some reason), and I’m drama-free. I don’t talk to anyone that I find boring, or a waste of my time. If I ever do want to talk to any girl, I’d ask Steve about it. I do things for my own entertainment (until I badger my roommates and they want to skewer and/or roast me). In comparison to my graduating class, my stress is minimal to the point of non-existent.

I wear a shit-eating grin, with a toothy smile that stretches from one ear to the other; my mental health has never been better. It started with accepting that I can be a flawed individual, but still happy with myself. For me, it’s about finding the positive educational experience within any negative problem. To all of you that still struggle with your own mental health, I hope you realize how brave you truly are.

You have a battle everyday in your own personal life, either big or small. Maybe you’re walking on a gravel road, with huge potholes filled with mud, or maybe you’re walking on a freshly paved street. Maybe you’ve found success, or maybe you’re on the way and just need a little guidance. Either way, keep your head up. Talk to a therapist, or a friend who can give you brutal honesty. Reach out to those that care, because I promise someone does.

(But also, watch this amazing video because I love this song.)

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