Welcome to our new 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.
As a Black woman, hair has often been such a critical part of our identity. Weaves, wigs, braids, extensions, it can be overwhelming! Sometimes we can feel like we are defined by our hair. If our hair is not in a style that is socially accepted as the norm, we can feel as though our beauty is diminished.
I decided to cut my hair to get to know who I am at my core, not who I am depending on my hairstyle.
Let me tell you! I have never felt more confident than I did after I cut my hair and began rocking my natural hair texture. It is so empowering! Not only was it empowering, but it actually helped with my emotional health as well. I felt less anxiety about my having a “perfect” outward appearance and for the first time EVER I truly did what made ME happy! Not to mention, I have never felt more beautiful. If you never tried rocking your natural tresses, I encourage you to do so! You may feel the same sense of freedom that I experienced! I had to take care of my inner self before I was able to truly radiate beauty on the outside.
One thing that I have noticed while in school or in the dorms is that my peers spend a lot of time on their phones! The majority of their time is spent on Twitter and Instagram. I love both of those mediums! I think they are so fun both to get inspiration from and to stay connected to friends and family. BUT… I also found that the energy I was spending observing others’ living out their dreams was taking time from me living out my own.
This is how I handled it: I get on social media once a day in the morning to check my messages/notifications/read my timeline. This is for approximately 15 minutes or less. Then I go on with the rest of my day!
NOW… for some people, this might be slightly extreme.
HOWEVER… I needed that structure. It has helped my focus tremendously. Maybe I will get to the point where I will check it more often, but for now, while I am trying to pursue my dreams, it is what I have to do!
Spirituality is a huge part of my life! My relationship with God and Jesus has helped me through many rocky times.
I realized that I don’t need to pray only when I need something or when things are not going the way I planned. I realized the benefit of spending time with God daily just to thank Him for his many blessings. When I started getting up early and spending time praying and reading my bible, I felt better all day. I was more confident in myself and in my purpose on this earth. Little things that went wrong during the day didn’t affect me as much. If a driver cut me off or the barista messed up my Starbucks order, the world was not over. I had a more balanced outlook on things. Overall, I was less distressed, my mood was better, and I felt as though I could handle anything.
In order to make time to do this, I have to make a choice to get to sleep a little earlier so that I can wake up early enough to have time to say my prayers before I start my day. It is not always easy and time management plays a major role in this, however, it is worth it. I love the person that I am when I feel connected to God.
I am a super bubbly person. People ask me sometimes, “Do you ever get angry?” It is in my nature to be very positive and to look at the glass half full. I love encouraging others when they are going through a hard time.
I still experience a range of emotions, and I have family and friends that I go to in times of stress. But overall, I try not to let negative feelings and emotions control me. I CHOOSE to be happy!
I used to feel as though I was too positive and people would find that annoying. So I would suppress my happiness and my joy. I would try not to smile too much and I would take on the mood and energy of others. I constantly worried about what people thought of me.
This caused me so much anxiety! I always felt as though I had to suppress who I was to fit in with my peers.
Then, one morning I woke up and said, “I’m not going to do this anymore!” I am going to be ME! If people don’t like it, that’s OK. They probably are not meant to be in my life anyway. No one was going to steal my joy any longer.
So whoever you are… don’t let anyone steal your happiness and joy. Whatever makes your soul happy, do it. Whoever brings you peace and joy, keep these people close.
Choose to be you!
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