Six months ago, I naively wrote that life at university would be easy. Now, six months later, things have not gone the way I had imagined.
I was unhappy throughout my first term of school. The constant fear of being outdone by my talented course mates weighed me down with a never-ending sense of melancholy and anxiety. The loss of a friendship which I deeply valued took away a source of emotional stability that I so heavily relied on during my secondary school career. Not being able to manage the stress, I decided to shut myself away from the bulk of my day-to-day interactions.
I realised that I needed help, but I came across the same hurdle that millions of people face when they try to seek assistance. Being underfunded and overstretched, my university simply didn’t have the resources to cater to my needs immediately. I was told to wait for two months. I couldn’t think of a way to overcome my depression, so I went for the next best option: hide it.
It was a bad choice, but it was the only realistic option for me. Although my friends did try to cheer me up, I realised that people simply don’t want to be around someone who is always down. As paradoxical as it might sound, it takes a lot of strength to be honest about your weaknesses, and I didn’t have the strength to do this.
I thought about revealing my emotions in my previous article, but ultimately decided against it. I knew that eagle-eyed employers would be scouting my entire online presence for the slightest defect or shortcoming, waiting to throw away my application at the first glimpse of imperfection. I worked hard to build my image of being a tough and emotionally stable person, and I did not want to let it all go to waste.
Today, I have decided to open up because I realise that many people may be in the same position as I was. My problems weren’t the most disastrous on any metric, but they are the most common ones faced by people of my age. It is therefore important for us to recognise that it is okay to be sad. Society’s insistence, especially in Hong Kong, for everyone to look all fine and dandy is simply irrational and not worth adhering to.
Through this experience, I have come to realise that my worries were all immaterial. Humans are naturally emotional, and feeling sad from time to time is part of being human. I’m no longer worried about this piece affecting my job prospects because an employer who does not take mental health seriously is not one that I’d like to work for anyway. Whether you’re pursuing a glitzy career in law or some other childhood dream, it is important to put your mental health first. It’s time we let go of our silly insecurities and face our problems head on.