Over the summer I was constantly spamming my Instagram story with aesthetic pictures of the places I was going and the fun things I was doing. I figured that the good pictures that I took deserved to be seen. When I got back to campus for fall semester, I had people telling me how amazing my summer looked. While I did have the opportunity to do some incredible things, my posts didn’t show the hard days: the ones when my anxiety prevented me from leaving my room, or those I spent the entirety of looking at other people’s posts, thinking about how they seemed to be having more fun than me.
The idea that Instagram is a cultivated highlight reel is by no means revolutionary. Yet, especially at Midd, it can be hard to remember that the lives of our peers are more complicated than they appear on their social media. In my two years here, I have found myself constantly comparing my real life to the well-curated ones on social media. I have to remind myself that I don’t see the hardships of others on social media; no one wants to talk about their struggles with an acquaintance in the dining hall, let alone post about them for the world to see. We reserve sharing our true feelings with a few close friends or family members and let everyone else go on believing that we are doing great.
Even at a pretty small school, it can be easy to feel lost. Everyone seems to be constantly on top of their shit: simultaneously posting fun adventures on Instagram, speaking up in every class discussion, going to parties, participating in countless organizations, and still having time to meet all of their deadlines. It all seems impossible. It can feel like everyone around you is managing while you’re struggling to stay afloat. I have certainly felt that way during my time here, and these pressures make it even harder to admit when you are struggling.
Well, the SGA Mental Health committee is here to tell you that you are most certainly not alone in your struggles. Maybe this sounds like a cliche pulled right from your Instagram feed. Still, we hope this new column in The Campus can be a place where students can share their experiences with mental health in order to reject the false notion of the perfect Midd student. The reality is, at one point or another, we have probably all struggled here. Honestly, if you have managed to not struggle with some aspect of being a Middlebury student, we hope you’ll send in your tricks.
Your story doesn’t have to be creative or poetic. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s too small to share. We just want it to be real. We just want you to share how you really feel. The campus in the middle of nowhere can be isolating. The long, cold winters can make it hard to want to leave your room. So if you’ve ever felt any of these struggles or have had other experiences you want to share, we want to hear about it.
Even if you don’t share your story with us, share it with somebody else. I’m not asking you to yell in the middle of Proc about your struggles (though we certainly won’t stop you), but to encourage you to take the time to talk to friends or even a mental health professional about all the not-so-perfect things. If more of us talk about just how hard it is to be a student at Middlebury, then more and more people will realize how normal it is to be not perfect all the time.
So, if you want to share your story of how you feel at Midd, fill out the form at go/howifeel, and we will reach out to get your piece published. Even if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to write or what form it will take, please still fill out the form, and we can work together to make something great.