On Minorities and Depression

I’ll be completely honest. This was a hard topic for me to get around to writing about, and I’m still not exactly sure how useful it is. Additionally, I want to preface this buy saying that I was never actually diagnosed with depression, so I’m just talking from my own experiences.

2013 has not exactly been my favorite year. Considering that I have a weird fascination with even numbers, that’s not entirely shocking. One of the things I learned is that I don’t know when to quit, and I absolutely do not know when I’ve taken on too much stuff. I can justify some of this because I needed to offset the less academically wonderfully aspects of my college career, but if I’m honest some of it was because I wanted to be the best.

But pretty much everyone says that, so where does being a minority come in?

Well at least for me, I grew up in a predominantly black and hispanic elementary school and area. Buy the time I reached 6th grade, I was whisked off to a 98% white private school. I went from being academically gifted for who I was to being one of the ‘smart black people.’ I wasn’t like the others, and while I loved my school they didn’t hesitate to subtly remind me of the difference. And it kind of screws with your head and makes you think that you can only fit into the ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’ categories. You can’t be average, you can’t relax, and you can’t slow down. It’s either all or nothing. And to this day I have that mentality to a certain extent, which I think has messed with my relationships more than I can imagine.

So take a kid like that, put them in college, and see what happens if they do poorly even once. They freak out. And, true to my nature I did.  I think I can count only sophomore year where I wasn’t a complete wreck, and that’s only because I had to revolutionize my lifestyle changes. But I don’t believe I’ve every truly enjoy a single moment in college, and that’s mainly because I’ve spent most of my time seeing it as an enemy that ruined my sense of identity. This past semester, I almost ended up doing extremely poorly in a class, and at one point, I just laid in my room and didn’t eat for three days. When I think back on it, that sounds incredibly insane. But it also coincides with everything I was brought up to be. If you’re not the best (African American) in your class, who are you?

And to be honest, I still don’t know the answer to that. But I know that others shouldn’t have to go through with that. There are no straight solutions to these types of problems, but I know from past experience and from the experiences of others that it is a very hard mentality to get over. I just want others to know that there truly isn’t any great value in trying to be perfect. Does it help to excel? Of course, but if its the only goal you have you’ll always been fighting against yourself. Whether you’re a minority or not, set you goals, and breathe. That’s one of the few things I wish I had done before coming to college.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I can relate. I grew up in an all Black neighborhood, went to a predominately Black and Hispanic high school and then a very white University where in many classes with 100 plus students there would be me and maybe three or four other Black kids. I always felt like I had to be the best to prove that I belonged, that I was not only just as smart, but smarter than the white kids. It messed me up too in some ways, but largely because when I would see Blacks doing ignorant things or perpetuating the stereotype many White people already have of Black people, I would feel disgusted and angry and try to distance myself from those people. Eventually I had to come into my own, much like you have done.

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