Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

The past few months could best be described as a whirlwind of important decisions, fallbacks, and strenuous life events. As an official fourth year college student, I can assure you the perfect balance between personal life and school is impossible to attain. The ultimate reality is that life will overlap in your professional career no matter what. But it’s how you choose to deal with those situations that determines your capability. This past month has been a true test to my willpower, especially because I’ve been struggling with negative dialogues in my head convincing me to doubt myself. I am often able to distract myself and turn the volume down when negative thoughts begin to make noise, but this specific notion has always been challenging ever since I’ve started college.

Linear expectations that society sets in stone is extremely detrimental to our mental health. From a very young age, we’re taught that a specific age defines how far we’re expected to get in life. For example, by the age of 25 I’m expected to be married, have children, have a stable career, and be financially well-off. But what people often fail to comprehend is that life is seldom a linear pathway for millions of people. Navigating through life on your own is difficult enough, but with added pressure to measure up to society’s standard makes it much worse.

Your chapter 10 is not the same as somebody else’s chapter 30. Stop comparing yourself to other people’s accomplishments and ride the wave of your journey as it comes!

Tanjim Islam

This past month, many of my peers graduated with their Texas A&M Bachelor’s diploma and although I’m ecstatic for their achievements, a part of me feels rushed and anxious to get to the finish line. I watched my friends move on to the next phase of their lives while I feel so lost. As if I were on an endless subway train, eagerly waiting for my destination but getting nowhere near my stop.

While throwing myself a pity party alone in my room, I vented to my friends how my life is unfair. Maybe it was just the perfect alignment of the stars in that very moment. I felt so alone in this journey, but while scrolling through my Instagram feed I came across a post by one of my favorite writers, Bianca Sparacino. Her words comforted me. It took my battling thoughts and composed my dilemma in a very beautifully written post:

A screenshot from @rainbowsalt ‘s Instagram Story

I know time feels like it’s against us and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. That leads us to self loathing and doubts about our abilities. Take a deep breath if you resonate to this, and remember that no successful individual has got to their end goals without setbacks and failures along the way.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis