Article written by Áine Ahern – a 24-year-old, creative thinker & coffee drinker. She is a marketer who has been volunteering with the Marketing Communications team for Limerick Mental Health Week.
I am a thinker. I always have been, and I always will be. Being a thinker, means having open conversations with friends and family posing questions like;
“If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?”
Strangely, 9 out of 10 of my friends have answered along the lines of “I wish I didn’t think too much”, “I’m an over thinker” or even “I over analyse every single situation”.
Funnily enough, when I posed the same question to older people they replied with “I wish I was more patient”, or “I need to stop procrastinating”. So why is it that every young person I asked defined themselves as “overthinkers”?
Do under thinkers even exist? And if you do, I will happily shake your hand! In reality, maybe we do have more to think about than our parents- with new advancements in technology, the housing crisis, student debt, cryptocurrency, LGBTQ rights, Westlife reuniting, and even Trump as US president maybe we have every right to think more! But from what I see the problem is not with over thinking, but more with overcoming. Overcoming obstacles, the ability to recover quickly from difficulties or toughness, in other words- resilience.
The chosen one
I was having coffee with my mom one day and I asked her opinions on my generation. Whether she thought we were overly sensitive, or as the older generation are referring to us as- “snowflakes”. Any minor inconvenience that happens to us and we simply fall apart, disintegrate like a melting snowflake.
It was interesting to hear her perspective. She referred to us not as “snowflakes” but as “the chosen ones”. Did this mean that we were the Harry Potters and the Frodo Baggin’s of this world? Unfortunately, not. Intrigued by this label, I probed some more. My mom then went on to reiterate that our generation were in fact – planned (sorry Granny!). Now that contraceptives were sold over counters, we were really the first babies that had it all, cute Celtic cubs.
We were put on waiting lists for all-Irish schools (despite not having spoken our first words), we were signed up for gymnastic classes, dance lessons, rugby tots while simultaneously being called “the best”. And don’t get me wrong, maybe you were the best native speaker in your class by the age of 4 but unfortunately you would never be picked to play minor county, unlike your arch nemesis, Ruth. And then how did we react? Well, not well. Not well at all and what’s worse was most likely our parents’ reactions.
The term “helicopter parenting” has also been trending in the last few years and for those who aren’t familiar, it has been best described as “a parent who pays extremely close or excessive attention to their child’s experiences and problems”. Now I’m not calling Ruth’s mother a helicoptering mother, I’m sure her mother was fantastic- but maybe that was the problem all along, perhaps she was too fantastic. Maybe if we could have sat in the pilot seat more, we would be more in control of where we were going and could plan our journey. Then again, our generation always resorts back to google maps…
I think I speak on a lot of my friends behalves when I talk about the relationship I have with social media. Without a shadow of a doubt it is unrequited love. Because when I’m posting a picture of my hipster coffee in a hipster coffee shop entitled “Art”. Ruth down the road has already posted about her new exhibition that will in fact feature her real work of art. Suddenly your “Art” feels like a stick man drawing in relation to Ruth’s masterpiece. You see that’s the thing with social media, you’re never going to win.
If I go to Tenerife, Ruth has already been to Elevenerife- sure she’s even brought her nanna there! Only last week I put up a picture of a pumpkin patch and I received one message that read;
“Your life is so exciting- I can’t keep up with you!”
No. 1, I can’t keep up with myself as I’ve just graduated and am yet to land a job in my field and No.2, there’s a reason I’m not putting up pictures of me stressed in the library until all hours of the morning! Reason being no one wants to see that and quite frankly, no one wants to be perceived as feeling or looking that bad. I think that’s the biggest problem we have. Admitting things aren’t going to plan or even admitting we aren’t feeling okay. Whereas if for once we posted about not feeling so okay, maybe that would make others feel less bad about the day they just experienced.
On the other hand…
social media has become a platform for glorifying mental illnesses. Every day new photos are captioned surrounding mental health. There’s a lion, a cheetah and a hyena all chasing the same wildebeest only the wildebeest has a “me” caption and the lion is now called “depression”, the cheetah is called “anxiety” and the hyena is labelled “Bipolar”.
These photos are shared on social media like wildfire with friends replying “so us xx” to each other. In hindsight if that really was “so us xx”, we wouldn’t have the ability to reply to our friends, let alone get out of bed. So for anyone that is actually going through a hard time right now, you may feel like a wildebeest today, but some day you’ll find your roar.
So, the next time you see someone post something spectacular just remember that social media is in fact their highlight reel and you can always be both a work of art and a masterpiece at the same time. At the end of the day my relationship with social media will always be a walk in the park, Jurassic park.
Ways to prevent melting
- Realise that feeling bad is only temporary and that this too shall pass (ignore Gandalf!)
- Asking for help is the key to survival- think of it as a pack mentality!
- Find purpose in your life- be so busy achieving goals that the little inconveniences remain little inconveniences.
- Start writing down your thoughts- if you see a negative pattern, do something about it early.
- Exercise! Happy hormones are a thing -plus you’ll look and feel hotter (not so hot you’ll melt though)
- If you see someone struggling, be there for them. Even if that means sitting in silence. You never know when they might need to return the favour.
- Embrace change. Without it, butterflies would not exist
- Gain perspective of situations, I like the 5 rule, “If this won’t bother me in 5 months/5 years, then I’m not going to spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it”. Easier said than done.
- Everyone is going through something and fighting their own battles. If you could read someone’s story- you’d love them.
- Keep your cool! Everything is in fact okay. And as Ed Sheeran’s granny puts it, “Everything is going to be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end”.
Snowflake Queen herself (Not to be mistaken for Elsa)
P.S, I really hope you are okay hun!