Don’t Suffer in Silence – How Can You Help Yourself?

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Going through a difficult time alone is not always easy, but the option to call a friend is a good one to have.  Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help, but doing it will give you freedom.  It is also not as difficult as you may think.   

All of our favourite Instagram stars and celebrities have thousands of followers who cheer them on daily through: likes, views, comments, retweets and shares – but when they close their social media apps, just how much of their perfectly co-ordinated feed translates into a flawless life?

            Nobody heard him, the dead man,

            But still he lay moaning:

            I was much further out than you thought

            And not waving but drowning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     – by Stevie Smith

How many of them, as Stevie Smith wrote in the poem above, are not waving, but drowning? How many people look like they have it together, but are struggling to be strong?

No one has a Perfect Life

The pressure to present a perfect front is especially hard at varsity. University years are the years in which we seek to be the people we have always dreamt of being. We want to do this away from the watchful eyes of our parents, and to be accepted for the new person we are continuously discovering. But because we’re all just making it up as we go along, the results are often disastrous!

For one, being different can often feel like a disadvantage. We all claim to want to stand out, and maybe we do, but a huge part of us also wants to be a part of community – accepted. For many people whose differences are not ‘cool’, or ‘acceptable’, shame seems to fall on them heavily.

Seeking help is not shameful – whether it’s for your academics, wellness and health, or finances – it is not a weakness.

Here is the most important thing you need to know – you don’t deserve to suffer in silence! And there is certainly no shame in seeking help.

You are not Alone

Here are some reasons why a friend is never far away: If you’re experiencing difficulty with your academics, whether it’s reading or writing, or comprehension; there is help for you. Many universities have writing centres, or teaching and learning centres which assist students with anything from crafting arguments in assignments, to understanding difficult material assigned in lectures and tutorials.

Finding a squad can be tricky when you don’t know how to meet people who have similar interests to you. Fortunately most universities have societies, or “clubs”, which connects like-minded people with ease. Societies are also a great way to grow your extra-curricular skills and leadership. The social capital these afford you will also prove very useful for networking and even for the workplace one day!

In case you haven’t caught on yet, I will remind you one last time – there is no shame in seeking help. Especially when it comes to your mental, spiritual, emotional and physical wellness. It is worth investigating what counselling assistance is available for students at your institution. In many cases, this counselling is free for students. The only shame is refusing help because you don’t want to appear weak!

Mentorship is an excellent way to receive first-hand knowledge and advice from an experienced individual in your field, faculty or even residence. Having an experienced advisor in your corner takes off the pressure of having to know it all and figure it out all on your own. Tap into the wisdom others have to offer! If your university does not offer a formal mentorship programme, a good way to find a mentor for yourself is to identify someone from your faculty, or residence (a house committee member, or sub-warden etc), or society who you feel you could get along well with and learn a lot from.

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