As I walk through the halls of my high school, you will often find me with a smile on my face, greeting others as they cross my path. My teachers will tell my parents, “Oh, Evie! She is such a hard worker, I wish I had more students like her!” Or, “She is a perfectionist, she spends a great deal of time on her work, making sure that she dots all of her i’s and crosses her t’s.” My friends will tell you that I give the best advice and always lend a listening ear. But, who is listening to me? Who knows how I really feel inside? Sure, my therapist might, but that is because she has years of training and experience to read people. Along with getting paid crazy amounts of money to give me her insight. What I really want to know is, do people really see me? Or, am I The Invisible High School Student? Of course I am not invisible. I am living, walking, breathing girl. I have a voice, I have feelings. By using the word “invisible” I am talking about the way I feel inside and the depression and anxiety I cope with on a daily basis, “invisible” in terms of being physically “seen” by others.
Of course everyone has a bad day, everyone gets nervous and feels anxious, but it is when that feeling doesn’t seem to go away that you can be labeled as “depressed” or “anxious.” Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate, it isn’t sexist, it doesn’t turn on and off like a light switch. For many, including myself, it is always there. Not every day is a bad day! I have many great days and a lot of happiness in my life, too! But, I don’t think depression is about being happy or sad.
I believe that my feelings of invisibility at times is relatable to everyone. A quote that really speaks to me is, “Don’t judge people. You never know what kind of battle they are fighting.” For example, when my parents come home from conferences and praise me for all my hard work, and my strive for perfection, I really want to tell them that I am terrified of failure. That I spend so much time trying to answer every single math problem correctly because even the thought of failing my math assignment makes me sick to my stomach. Or, that I am comparing myself to my older sibling and I don’t want my parents to think that I am the “dumb one.” When my friends say I give great advice, I am actually just telling them what they want to hear because I am a people pleaser and I don’t want to hurt their feelings, when really I disagree with their actions.
Being a human is hard. Being a teenage human is the hardest. A lot of teenagers feel anxious about school, work, friends, and family. All they are thinking about is having someone’s approval either the work they do or the relationships they have with friends and family because they want to be accepted. Everyone tells me to stop being a perfectionist. Then, I hear things from my family or even the people around me saying they don't commend what I am doing. It makes me feel hopeless inside and that I am not good enough. Teenagers want to make the ones they care about proud. If we do not get praised for the effort we do and only for getting an A on a test then we will have a lower self esteem. We will feel the need to be perfect because we are”unaccepted”.
Overall, one of the most important things I have learned throughout dealing with and accepting my challenges with depression and anxiety, is to never make assumptions about others. To be kind to one another. To get to know a person and to really take the time to listen. The best way to get through our teenage years is together, not alone.