Maya Wilkins is a junior journalism student and writes “Girlboss’d” for The Daily News. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I don’t watch the game.
You can’t see the countless nights I’ve been awake crying because my thoughts are telling me my life is useless. You haven’t seen the journals I’ve filled wishing things would get better when they seem to be getting worse. You haven’t been part of the internal struggle I’ve been through since I was 11.
I don’t look like someone who has thought about suicide. My positive personality and drive for success takes people’s attention away from years of painful comments about my height, weight, education, and personality.
I don’t watch the game.
I was told that my thoughts were invalid, that there was no way I could actually feel this. I remember being told this for the first time when I was 11 and asked my best friend why I was constantly sad. She said I needed to grow up and think about people who “were really struggling.”
When I open up, I have been told that I am being too dramatic, that I need to “toughen up” or that I don’t understand how good my life is.
I fully understand that my life is easier than most – I have parents who love each other, I received a quality education, I grew up in a house where I was always reminded that I was loved it and have always had at least a few close friends.
But I always tell myself that nothing I do will live up to other people’s standards. I tell myself that I will never be enough. I’m still struggling.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people commit suicide each year, or one life every 40 seconds. And, for every adult who committed suicide, there may be 20 more who attempted suicide and are missing.
It doesn’t even include statistics for children, where suicide is the second leading cause of death. It was also before the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when people were isolated in their homes and trapped in their own thoughts.
How many of these people did not “look suicidal”?
How many of these people have been told that they cannot be depressed because their life is so good?
How many of these people didn’t seem to be part of the game?
Our lives are like icebergs – people can only see what is on the surface, but not what is hidden deeper. I don’t know what someone else’s thoughts are, and they don’t know what mine are. Without asking, we don’t know anything about what other people are going through.
However, due to our addiction to social media, people feel the need to judge and comment more based on what they see on the surface. Although I love Instagram and Twitter, I know how toxic it can be for me.
If I see someone from high school posting a college quality post to them, I compare it to my experience. When a friend of mine posts about an amazing opportunity he had, I wonder why I am not trying hard enough for the same. If I see my sisters posting about traveling and making memories without me, I feel sad that I have to leave them.
I don’t know why I feel the need to compare myself to everyone else or why I feel the need to make everyone happy, but every time I see these messages, these negative thoughts and feelings come back, telling me that I don’t. will never live up to expectations. Everything is based on a surface level environment that is handcrafted
The moment I felt this the most was during my first semester of freshman, especially from late October to early November 2020. Starting college during a pandemic has not been easy, and every day felt like I was missing out on a “college experience.”
I felt lost in my specialty and wasn’t writing as much as I had hoped. I had friends, but I almost always felt I belonged in the group. My classes didn’t meet in person, so it was difficult for me to stay focused and take on challenges.
I would see college people across the country making the most of their experiences despite the pandemic, and I would feel like I was doing something wrong. All of those negative thoughts I had about myself came back.
I was constantly tearing myself apart and telling myself that I was not and never would be enough.
You couldn’t have said it by looking at me.
I showed up to my minimal face-to-face classes and participated. I was interactive on Facebook pages trying to make friends. I started writing for The Daily News just to tell myself that I was doing something with my life.
No one saw the nights I walked around campus alone until 2 a.m. because the thoughts in my head were too distracting to be with other people. Or the times I cried after talking to my dad every Sunday because I was lying to him and telling him I was happy. I am the only one who read my newspapers and saw the horrible words my name was.
I didn’t seem to be in the game then, and I’m still not watching the game now.
I’m doing everything I can to remove this part of myself, so everyone thinks I’m perfectly fine. I hate letting people down and I feel like showing this part of myself would only disappoint.
But I’m sick of living that way, and I’m sick of people not thinking I look like I’m struggling.
We can’t assume that everyone is okay based on how they behave or what we know about them at the surface level.
No one has to watch the part – no one has to remove parts of themselves to please others. We are human. We make mistakes, we are jealous, we have our faults. I’ll be the first to say I need to change and stop comparing myself to others, but some days it’s really hard.
I didn’t understand everything, and I don’t think anyone understood everything, especially at university. We’ll all need a little extra help sometimes, and it’s okay to reach out and ask.
You never know what someone is going through, no matter how badly they seem to have it together.
No one has to look at the play.