Column: Cut yourself some slack

Senior discusses ways students can improve their mental health

%22To+all+my+fellow+students%2C+I+hope+you+realize+that+you+are+not+a+time+or+a+score.+I+hope+you+realize+that+we+all+relate+on+a+similar+level%2C+and+in+order+to+keep+your+head+free+of+negativity%2C+you+must+consider+what+things+really+define+you.%22

Hannah Gonzalez

“To all my fellow students, I hope you realize that you are not a time or a score. I hope you realize that we all relate on a similar level, and in order to keep your head free of negativity, you must consider what things really define you.”

I have never been much of an emotionally intelligent person.

I tend to push other people away when I feel as though the same love, and affection I give out is not reciprocated.

I shut down the minute someone says something hurtful to me. You can read it all over my face; my eyes turn to the floor below me and my lips press firmly against each other in a way that I would have to fight to open them. I immediately want to exit the situation because I feel unwanted. 

I never confront people that have hurt me and suppress my emotions until they no longer bother me anymore. News flash; my emotions always resurface.  

I compare myself to almost everyone I see. I feel like a failure if I don’t have the straight A’s that I had in middle school. I get frustrated easily when someone doesn’t agree with me. I’d rather struggle alone than reach out to somebody that could help. 

These are all characteristics that make my everyday life harder, and yes, I could change the way I react in those types of situations. But no matter how hard I try, there will always be certain demons in my thoughts. 

In order to honor suicide prevention month, here are three personal mantras that have helped me talk myself through some hard times. 

“You are beautiful in your own way.” 

I’m sure you know my two sisters, Ava and Caroline Bouldin. The blondes that have bright blue eyes, naturally red lips and model-like physiques. In fact, one was even signed to a modeling agency. I have frizzy, thick brown hair that never properly curls. It always seemed to form a hook at the end. My body always had weird proportions, and I grew up embarrassed to wear bikinis. I, of course, didn’t want people to see my pale stomach that was never flat or toned.

My whole life I have always felt like the “odd egg.” Countless times, I watched my sister get approached in the mall by a man with a business card to recruit her or simply standing next to her as boys came up and flirted with her. I would convince myself that I would never be beautiful in the way that she is. 

My mom would always try to help me feel better by saying I am like “the girl next door,” but of course, I brushed it off because she has to say things to make me feel better, right? 

After years, I realized that the problem was that I let society’s obsession with blonde hair and skinny figures dictate how I saw myself. 

Feeling beautiful is so important as a teenager who is trying to figure out their identity, and I understand the insecurities that can instantly ruin your day. But creating a new beauty standard that matches you is powerful. Make the beauty standard selflessness, kindness and generosity. 

“A grade in the grade book does not define you.” 

It’s funny how PowerSchool can ruin my day with a single notification. I studied for hours for a  certain test to the point where I could even recite information to my parents without hesitation. After sitting in anticipation for my grade, a muffled sound comes from somewhere at the bottom of my backpack, and my conditioned brain instantly reaches to pull my phone out. I have to know what I got. 

My eyes quickly gaze over, and I see a 63 in the grade book. My heart skips a beat, and my cheeks turn to the color of shame. Before I think of ways I can solve this, my brain is already convinced that I am a failure. 

I think about each problem that I missed and why. I blame myself for not studying hard enough. Finally, I just come to the conclusion that I’m not smart. I know it seems ridiculous, but for some reason, this double-digit number defines my entire academic capability. For some reason, I think that if I don’t have all A’s then I’m not worthy, right? 

Students at Lovejoy put so much value behind a grade letter. 

Tests are full of unrealistic problems that you, most likely, would never see in the real world. So if you pass the test, you really are just good at memorizing; congratulations. But could you tell me why you use certain formulas? Or, in what real world situations would we possibly use y=mx+b? Can you tell me how knowing the basic anatomy of a cell will help you succeed in life? 

Instead of memorizing some crafted review that has been reused by teachers since the beginning of the school in 2006, I want to remember the memories that I have made through sports teams, FCA, clubs and friends. 

Lift the weight of a number off your shoulders and focus on the learning. Focus on your future and what you truly want to pursue. If we invented the concept of the grading system, then take the power back out of it. 

“Don’t be such a practice hero.”

As a cross country runner, going on year four, sometimes no amount of miles or 400’s could impact me the way a bad practice or race might. 

I find myself constantly getting bogged down by bad workouts or bad meets, and I’m sure that many athletes can relate.

Whether you have first or seventh period athletics, the success you have in that 60-minute time period is so important. 

Ya right. 

If I don’t have the best run or workout, then I am doomed to not perform well, and I need to go out and do more. This is how many athletes feel because they want to perform at their best level. 

The problem with that mentality is that we are not engineered to perform perfectly everyday. We have setbacks, we fall short, our legs get tired, and we are just not in the mood. 

We are growing teenagers that go through constant hormonal changes and growth spurts. How can you possibly expect yourself to have a perfect practice everyday? And, why do you get so upset when you don’t? 

One day does not diminish the amount of work and effort you have put into this sport and the fact that you keep showing up everyday. 

In conclusion, cut yourself some slack. 

To all my fellow students, I hope you realize that you are not a time or a score. I hope you realize that we all relate on a similar level, and in order to keep your head free of negativity, you must consider what things really define you. 

And remember, you are never alone. If you need someone to talk to, and you don’t know where to go, call (800) 273-8255.