We are the generation of mental illness. Of anxiety. Of depression. Of stress that turns to ulcers. We are the generation defined by the sickness in our minds. Of not knowing how to fail. We are the generation that tears ourselves apart because we can’t achieve perfection. We are the generation full of panic. Of Xanax and Zoloft and Valium.
At the age of six, we were expected to learn right away, instead of play. We were told to do better. To be better. To work harder on fractions and the alphabet.
At the age of eight, we got yelled at for not understanding a math problem. I cried every day I had to go to school and eventually changed teachers because my anxiety was so debilitating.
At the age of ten, we were expected to come inside to do more homework, instead of chasing fireflies in the dark. We were expected to not get B’s or C’s. Only A’s. Straight A’s. Or else we were failures. Or else we were dumb.
At the age of twelve, we were taught that some students are gifted and talented and that others were not. I was not. All my friends were gifted. All my friends were talented. So what did that make me?
And then we watched as everyone started growing up around us. We watched our former best friends join more popular crowds. We watched people have breakups and makeups.
I didn’t have a boyfriend in middle school, so I wasn’t ‘normal’. I had to take beginner levels of math, so I wasn’t ‘normal’. I guess no one felt like they could be themselves, because our best wasn’t good enough.
And then high school comes and everyone starts studying and planning their next four years and eight years. We spend those years panicking quietly about our future, because that’s all that anyone talks about.
And then there’s college. Some people don’t go because they can’t afford it. Some people go because they are forced to. Some people go because society says that you have no future, if you don’t go to college.
Freshman year was scary and miserable, but I got a 3.8 GPA so that’s all that mattered, right?
All we are taught to do, is to work harder and be better. All we are taught to do is to make the most money, to look the most beautiful, to date the richest person we can find. All we are taught to do is plan and stress and plan some more.
We don’t know how to just live. How to just be.
Why can’t we undo it all? Why can’t we be taught to be happy? Why weren’t we taught how to smile, instead of how to frown?
We are the generation of anxiety. Experts at running. Experts at studying and winning and running some more. But we are god damn terrible at slowing down. We are terrible at letting ourselves relax. We are terrible at expecting imperfection. Even though it is what we are.