Peer Health Educators X IfYoureReadingThis.org
If you’re reading this, you are unbelievably worthy of love.
My relationships with people have always brought me immense amounts of joy and fulfillment. I love learning the little things about each person that bring their unique story to life. And while I so desperately have wanted to do the same -- share my story and be real and authentic -- I have found myself at a loss for words more times than I can count. And why? I was terrified of not being enough for people. I was terrified that the many struggles I was facing would be too much of a burden to place on my loved ones. I felt like a burden, not worth the time or the effort.
But where were these feelings coming from? I chalked it up to the insane amounts of pressure I placed on myself to be the best or extreme stress from my academics that somehow worked its way into my everyday life and interactions. I came into my first year of UVA with a ton of underlying emotions and fears I didn't even know existed. My first semester of my first year brought about challenges I never thought I would face that had me questioning my worth each and every day. That same semester is when I knew deep down I had anxiety, but I refused to accept it. I was afraid to admit to myself that I was struggling. I would constantly replay my interactions with others over and over in my head, worrying about every little thing I had said. I was so angry at myself for not being able to recognize that I was, in fact, having a normal interactions with others. For once, I just wanted my heart and mind to be unafraid.
So where did I go from there? I put on a smile and pretended everything was okay. I did this for months, not really letting anyone get close to me because I was fearful my struggles would be too much. It took me a long time to realize that my feelings were valid, but through some doors that were opened, I gained an incredible community of people that helped me silence the voices in my head. I am not going to lie and say it was easy to immediately open up, it took months of hard conversations and frustration. But let me tell you, I cannot describe the joy I felt when I was truly vulnerable with those closest to me. With each conversation, the voices in my head grew softer and softer. Knowing I can share anything and everything with the people that love me for me was the most beautiful thing I could have done. But what was even better was realizing that I deserved this love, that I deserved this acceptance. Slowly but surely, I found my way back to myself.
Someone who I love dearly put it like this: friendship is the most beautiful burden because that is what friendship is all about, for another to help carry some of your struggles when the world becomes too heavy. If you are reading this, I encourage you to take a leap of faith and be vulnerable with someone you trust. It is probably the scariest thing I have ever done, to not only accept myself and my struggles, but to put myself and story out there, but wow, was it worth it.
I want you to know it is okay to not be okay. I want you to know that your struggles are valid. I want you to know that no matter what, you are enough in every way. And if you’re reading this, I want you to know that you are so deserving of love.
Kate P., University of Virginia ‘20
This post is a part of a collaboration installment between IfYoureReadingThis.org and Peer Health Educators.
Our two organizations share the joint mission of creating a happier and healthier student body, and we encourage you to explore their resources and programs.
Peer Health Educators (PHEs) are a group of roughly 45 UVA students who are trained to educate their classmates about college health and wellness issues in a positive, interactive, fun, and nonjudgmental manner. Comprehensive training through a three-credit course prepares the PHEs to provide confidential patient education sessions; facilitate dynamic outreach programs; encourage physical, mental, and spiritual health; create informative awareness events; and promote community support to create a healthy culture. PHEs are trained to educate on mental wellness, nutrition, alcohol safety, and sexual health.
If you would like to request an outreach from the PHEs, go to tinyurl.com/requestanoutreach and fill out the form. If you would like to talk to a PHE in a one-on-one patient education session about any and all of the above-listed topics, either book a patient education online through healthyhoos.com or walk to the lower level of Student Health.
If you would like to learn more about the PHE program or would like to apply to become one, go to our tab in the student health website under “health and wellness” > “peer education”.