How many times do you check your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in a day? I check most of these accounts at least five times a day (if not more).
What do you see there? I see picture after picture of high school friends “absolutely loving” their respective colleges or having the “time of their life” in exotic places for vacation. I see friends at Ohio State tweeting about their amazing sorority sisters, or sharing great experiences and opportunities afforded to them.
Do you know what I don’t see? Struggles–the tough days, the inescapable stress, homesickness, the feeling of not belonging or not having true friends. Why do we only go to social media with the good stuff? We paint an unrealistic picture of our lives and we only see the unrealistic picture of others’ lives. No one’s life is as perfect as they make it appear on social media.
In May, an ESPNW article profiled University of Pennsylvania student, Madison Holleran, who committed suicide. The article talked about how her life looked perfect if you viewed her social media accounts; she was a varsity athlete at an Ivy League university with many friends and a supportive family. What it did not show was that she was battling depression and was extremely unhappy. She felt like she was the only one struggling with the transition to college and she did not want to show weakness, so she did not admit how hard of a time she was having.
Her friends were struggling, too. They just tried to hide it through Instagram filters and “everything is great” tweets. They have recently started an initiative to show their bad days as well as the good and share their positive and negative emotions in their captions on social media. They share these pictures and thoughts with the hash tag #LifeUnfiltered.
One of my favorite lines from the article is, “It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to show people you’re not OK.” This is something I still struggle to accept to this day. This quote comforts me in knowing that I am not the only one who is struggling. If only more people would open up and say, “I am not OK,” we would realize that we are not alone in our struggles.
Throughout this blog my fellow Peer Leaders and I have shared with you examples of things we have posted with the original captions and then we rewrote the captions to show how we were actually feeling or struggles that we were facing at that point in time. It is our own take on #LifeUnfiltered. I hope you all know that you are not alone in how you are feeling and that you may consider also participating in this initiative, posting your own photos using the hash tag #LifeUnfiltered.
If you are struggling with mental illness, please do not hesitate to get help and support from the university. Learn more about Counseling and Consultation Service through their website.