Archives for Student Issues
Skype, email, text, IM, cell phone call, face time, gchat, Tweet, Facebook message…we have so many means of communication now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. And yet, communicating with our partners, especially when we’re at a long distance, has never been so challenging. Deciding whether or not to pursue or stay in a long distance relationship has only become more and more complex. Many of you have been pondering whether or not to stay in your relationship over the summer. You’ve also wondered whether or not to go abroad or stay at school and be with your significant other. These are not easy decisions. After all, true love, and/or a great relationship, can be hard to come by and build. Yet, some of us still have so many adventures ahead of us!
Since 2009, Spill has provided a safe space online for students to share their struggles and receive peer support. This means that students can write about absolutely anything they want to vent about. And not only are spills about romantic relationships in the top 5 most frequently written about categories, but they also encompass more than 50% of the spill content generated by college students. It's not that people are writing about things like what to wear on a first date, or how and when to make the first move or how to figure out whether your crush likes you or not. Not to diminish those things, but some of the things people write about go much deeper than that – they relate to things like: -sexual orientation -financial hardships -deciding whether or not to pursue or remain in a long distance relationship
A lot of college students spill about questions pertaining to their sexuality. Oftentimes, a student who has always considered him or herself to be ‘straight’ suddenly has feelings for someone of the same sex. Many of you write in because you’re feeling very confused as to whether the feelings you have for someone of the same sex are true feelings and are sexual in nature, or whether they are just some passing urge that will dissipate with time. The added stress comes when you’re in a monogamous relationship with someone. Not only are you questioning your identity as you’ve known it, but you’re also having thoughts about experimenting with someone else when you’re in a monogamous or committed relationship… While I can’t speak to whether or not your partner would be okay with you connecting with someone else intimately on some level, I can say that it’s completely normal for some people who are ‘straight’ to also at some point become ‘bisexual’ or some other form of sexual orientation that they did not previously identify with. What I learned in graduate school, and what I’ve also heard from various friends and acquaintances throughout my life, is that sexuality is on a spectrum, and people can lean one way or another or anywhere in the middle at any point in their lives.
Since this May is mental health awareness month, I want to talk about mental health and the impact it has in our lives. For those of us who have ever struggled with mental health issues, it’s important to understand that we are actually a part of the majority of people living in the United States. In fact, one in four adults in the US will suffer from some form of a mental health issue in his or her lifetime. We are not alone. It’s important to engage in supporting others with mental health issues, like our responders do at Spill. Peer responders provide confidential support for their peers by empathizing with their struggles and writing responses to them with feedback. We can engage in conversations with people and educate them in order to eliminate the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. While it can be very empowering to acknowledge that depression or anxiety or whatever it is that ails us is a part of who we are, it can also be very powerful to recognize that any one part of who we are does not make up all of who we are. In other words, you are not your _____________________. Fill in the blank (with depression, anxiety, stress, anger, distress, sadness, etc.)
Last night I had plans to visit with three of my nearest and dearest friends. I’ve been looking forward to it since last week when we made plans. You see, once a month, we get together for some wine, cheese, appetizers and a whole lot of laughter, stories, and catching up. I’ve come to truly cherish this time together; being ourselves and enjoying the moments. I was looking forward to it this week especially since we haven’t been able to get together as often as we used to. One of the gals had a baby a few weeks ago, and aside from us popping in unexpectedly to meet the new member of the family, we haven’t seen her as much. People’s lives are often super scheduled on the weekends, and during the weekdays, we are often tired. It’s all we can do to fit in a yoga class and eat a healthy meal before crashing into bed after working late the night before. Sometimes it can feel daunting to then go out and visit with friends (even your closest ones!).
Have you or someone you know experienced some form of sexual violence? In the movies, we see strangers lurking in dark corners, or attacking people on the way to their cars that are parked in dark garages. But in fact, the majority of rapes that occur are known as ‘non stranger’ rape. (This can include friends, acquaintances, family http://blogs.psychcentral.com/college/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=78&type=image&TB_iframe=1members, etc.) I don’t say this to scare you, but rather to point out the realities that exist today. According to the Department of Justice (2000), “90 percent of rape survivors on college campuses know their assailants.”
You know the feeling: you lay in bed, wide awake, tossing and turning, and wishing you could sleep. Instead, your mind drifts to the one. You know the one: that person you cannot shake from your mind, no matter how hard you try. Nothing steals a good night’s sleep from you like falling in love. One of the top five issues that get the most Spill ink is romantic relationships. It’s also one of the conversations that come up quite frequently amongst my girlfriends when we’re gathered together. And it has been since before college.
“Man Cannot Discover New Oceans Unless He Has the Courage To Lose Sight of the Shore.” – Andre Gide Loneliness can be a crippling cycle: students feel alone and isolated so they withdraw from their social lives, making them feel more alone and isolated. As of last February, loneliness accounted for nearly 5% of all spills…Loneliness can feel very isolating. Most anyone can and does experience loneliness, and we have found that it is often accompanied by difficulty making friends, homesickness, feeling alone around others, or having too few meaningful acquaintances. It is no wonder then that many first years in particular feel a sense of loneliness. During my first few weeks of college, I remember calling my parents to tell them that I would never possibly make the quality or extent of friendships that I’d had back at home. I was crying and very upset (they often remind me of this in a teasing manner to remind me of how quickly things that seem negative can turn around and become a positive experience. For the record, I did make many meaningful friendships in college, and I still keep in touch with many of those people today.)
One of our readers recently posted a poignant comment after reading “Stress Tends to Spill” last week in which she stated that “students should strongly consider seeking out their counseling center on campus. They don’t need to be going through a crisis before they seek this help; they can just go to have someone to talk with.” Here at Spill, we couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, most therapists and counselors would agree that no problem is too small for a visit to see a counselor. And yet, we have found that a huge chunk of student spillers feel as though their problem wasn’t serious enough to visit the counseling center. There is still a huge stigma around mental health issues, and college students are not immune to that stigma. Stigma can come in many forms, not the least of which is most damaging is when it creates self doubt or shame. This can be shame around one’s feelings, or around admitting to what we’re struggling with, and it can also mean shame around asking for help. But it doesn’t have to!
With St. Patrick’s Day behind us, any foreign visitor on a college campus might think that college life revolves around drinking. Green Beer, drinking games, and alcohol-induced bravado seemed to dominate this past weekend. However, many college students choose not to participate in the drinking culture that is synonymous with higher education these days. In fact, Student Spill had a number of students this year who anonymously vented about their frustration with the role alcohol played in their lives. It may seem that the majority of college student shrink with abandon, but when they are anonymously venting, another story emerges. The images of drinking and the college experience as intertwined are everywhere: movies like Beerfest and Old School have little value other than the drinking games they teach. It is easy to think that college life is all about the drinking and this image can be overwhelming to students who feel this may not be right for them. I’m not here to preach about avoiding underage drinking, but I’d be a fool to pretend all college students are binge drinkers. College campuses all have their own culture, and within those campuses each student is part of a network that has its own social culture as well.