I used to cringe when teachers would say, "There’s no such thing as a dumb question."
I would sarcastically roll my eyes and sigh, "Of course there is such a thing."
But in reality, this belief had nothing to do with asking the question itself and everything to do with my own insecurity about needing help.
I would never place myself in the position of possibly looking incompetent or inferior.
Fast-forward beyond the classroom to the paradoxically uneventful, yet chaotic life of a 20-something, and I find myself feeling the exact same way.
Whether it’s our romantic lives, our estranged family relations or our jobs, nothing ever seems to be quite how we would like it.
We're faced on the daily with success-measuring sticks that force us to face how others manage to have happier and seemingly more successful lives.
It’s a miserable pool party some of us are wading in, but even when we’re drowning, we don’t want to yell for help.
Society tells us we have to have it together.
Everyone has problems. Cry a river, build a bridge and get over it.
Life moves on with or without you, and whatever you’re going through, the adult world doesn’t give a crap.
You still have work to do, dishes to wash and bills to pay.
I never realized how run-down I was getting because I kept filling my daily life with busy actions that showed I was a working, happy-hour attending, sociable and functioning adult.
I needed to let the world know I was okay, and I never allowed myself to feel broken, weak, discouraged or vulnerable.
Instead, I would isolate myself for a couple of days and find comfort in binge-watching television shows or disappearing into a bottle of wine or some pizza.
After an emotional respite, I would get up the next day, sip my coffee and act like nothing had happened.
There would be an obvious gap or purposeful distance between me and the people in my life. They would ask the surface-grazing question, "Are you okay?"
Do they even want to hear about my problems? Do they even care?
I don't want to be downer, and besides, do I even want to talk about it?
I'd decidedly assume no to all of the above, and I'd brush all my anxieties underneath a mental rug.
I'd respond with a generic, "I just had to deal with some stuff."
Well, that “stuff” would continue to build, and I'd see myself becoming irrationally jealous of or annoyed by the people around me.
I couldn’t understand why other people were happy, but I felt so stuck.
We kill ourselves chasing normalcy and stability in establishing mental milestones that may or may not happen.
Who says you should be in a relationship by a certain age? What’s a “reasonable” age, anyway?
Why do you need that type of car to drive around?
Why do you need that title at work to feel important and valued?
Why do you have to do certain activities by the time you’re 30?
We tell ourselves that we need to have everything together, and when we don’t, we feel like losers.
It’s okay to not be okay.
While you shouldn’t go moping around forever, it's important to acknowledge why you’re feeling overwhelmed.
We like to believe that while we're surrounded by people, there's no one out there who knows or understands exactly what we’re going through.
We have friends, outings and television characters that provide momentary relief. But at the end of the night, when we’re stuck with our own thoughts, it’s easy to feel completely alone.
People may not totally understand the things you’re going through, but there are people who love and care for you, if you let them.
Acknowledge when you're tired of swimming, and let a friend, coworker or family member throw you a floaty every now and then.