This isn’t a column about mental health at Yale. I’ve written several of those columns already, and that countless others exist regarding the topic. Now, while mental health is certainly a huge problem at Yale. I suppose that, eventually, the dead horse you’re beating really is dead.
This isn’t a column for those who are afraid to admit that they may be depressed because of fear of judgment or fear of Yale Health’s inadequacy. This isn’t a column for those who don’t think they have any problems. No. This isn’t about an “unwillingness” to ask for help because of pride, fear or whatever.
This is simply a column about not being okay.
This is a column for those who know they could be better, but think that they’re not justified in making a “big deal” out of it. For those who will admit that they’re unhappy at the drop of a hat, but will quickly follow that admission up with a hasty “But that’s Yale,” or whatever permutation of the phrase they prefer.
This is a column for those of us in the gray area who don’t feel the need to bring it up, not because we’re afraid or in denial, but because we figure “Why bother?” when it’s so insignificant. This is for those who think they should deal with it themselves because they know that there are people with bigger problems — and please, don’t be patronizing and say that this isn’t true. We all know it’s true.
This is for those who don’t feel remarkably overstressed or depressed or anxious, but also haven’t felt particularly happy in a long time. For those who have come to expect muddier hues in their lives.
To all these people, I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I can’t offer a definitive solution. I’m sorry because I’m writing this just as much for me as I am you — because I thought that getting it on paper would help sharpen the fuzzy edges of an all-too-intractable problem.
I suppose I could tell you to go to Yale Health, but my call would probably fall on deaf ears. I know how many times I’ve read columns telling me to do just that, and I haven’t listened. Why burden an overburdened system with complaints that just don’t seem that urgent? I could tell you to talk to friends. But, while that might alleviate the symptoms of this annoying fog, it rarely gets to the root of the problem.
I can only offer some banal and obvious advice that I’ve found helpful in my own life: Do what makes you happy. Do the things that you know you want to do but don’t because you’re “too busy,” or because they would take too much effort, or require you to miss Toad’s.
A friend once told me that Yale takes kids with passions and molds them into something efficient. It imbues them with an absurd drive to be the best at everything. Yale is filled with former musicians, artists and writers — just about anything that you can think of — who have quit because they don’t stack up to the other musicians, artists and writers at Yale.
So don’t do something because you want to be the best, or because it’s supposed to be “your thing.” Do it because you know that it is something that would make you happy. It’s an obvious truth — a trite, overused, almost hollow truth — but it’s something we too often fail to internalize.
Though the busyness of this school may make you think otherwise, it’s just not true that every moment needs to be spent doing something that defines the trajectory of your Yale career. Some moments can be spent on whatever you want.
To be honest, I’m not sure about the long-term results of this lifestyle. But I’ve done my best to try to live by my own words. And while I’m not sure it’s made me happier per se, I will say this: I’ve begun to notice brighter shades of color returning to my life, one at a time.
Leo Kim is a junior in Trumbull College. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .