Once again, I am inspired to write this blog post because of the beautiful soul, Heather Parrie, who wrote a post on The Semicolon Project and her struggle with Depression. In it she touches on the idea of social labeling and the effect it has on an individual’s battle with Depression. This is extremely vital to understanding, I believe, why Depression and Anxiety can be so crippling to individuals believing they have to live up to the preconceived constructs of their so-called social niche.
Let’s get this out of the way. Fuck social labeling. (One thing you will learn about me is that I hate cursing online but I feel so strongly that I’m putting it in there anyways, sorry to offend anyone)! Social labeling and trying to fit into those labels deconstructs our community from unique, colorful, creative, multi-dimensional beings to flat, made-up characters birthed through ideas portrayed in mass media. A “cheerleader” can also be class valedictorian . A “hipster” can LOVE Starbucks coffee. A “jock” can also foster kittens in his home.
A “sorority president” can also have Depression.
I served as Delta Gamma President during my years at the University of Arizona and it was the most uplifting and worst thing for my Depression and Anxiety. On one hand, I got to travel so many different places, meet so many new people, and experience so many new things that I would have never been able to experience without the pleasure of serving as my chapter president. On the other hand, I had really never felt so alone….even though I was constantly surrounded by 270 close sisters. I felt extremely isolated because of my position, with people avoiding me so they wouldn’t get in trouble and others keeping things from me so their friends wouldn’t get in trouble. It was suffocating and I floated around the campus and chapter house feeling oddly like the most visible ghost that ever existed. I was being seen, but not really. Due to my social label as “sorority president” I was pretty much ruled out as the last person to ever be considered Depressed. I was on the President’s Honor Roll 4 years in a row, was in 4 academic/ leadership Honor Societies, and was even 1 of 11 women out of the entire University to be nominated for Homecoming Court…. how could anyone understand that I was simultaneously drowning in the white caps swallowing me whole?
Social labels are dangerous and counterproductive and need to be squashed. NO ONE can label you but YOU. If you want to be a cheerleader and a football player and a hipster and a sorority president, you can. Don’t feel cornered by society’s expectations simply due to your interests and hobbies. Dealing with Depression and Anxiety on a daily basis is hard enough without the added pressure of conforming to what the people around you think you should be. If you let it go, you will be so much happier. That is one thing I learned after many years of being labeled myself. I REFUSE to let anyone tell me what I am, how I should act, or even how I should feel. Keep your heads up, my loves. It gets better, I promise!