I am the friend other friends tell their dark secrets. I don't really know how I got this position - I certainly didn't apply for it, but I nonetheless got it. I have been trained to actively listen, help resolve conflicts, and find solutions to personal problems thanks to several programmes for which I volunteered. And although I do not see my friends through these programs, I nonetheless apply these skills when I need them.
One of the things that I've heard a lot is that people feel like they're alone, like there's no-one who'd understand, like there's nobody left they could talk to about this. But given the fact that I have had so many friends talk to me about similar issues, I know that this is not true. I recently hit an emotional low myself, and I felt exactly the same way. And, as almost everyone, I suck at taking my own advice.
Instead of sharing how I feel, I talked myself into believing that no-one would want to listen to this and that I could not bother them with my problems. So I put on a smile and moved on. Except, I didn't move on. When you ignore your issues, they just get bigger. And I watched them get bigger and bigger and did nothing about it - until I did.
I shared my issue with a friend and, almost instantly, the size of the problem turned into half its previous size. Sharing helps so much. And you're not being a bad friend by sharing your problems - you're simply being a friend. Friends lean on each other. And you're allowed to do so. If your friends don't love you on your worst days, let them go - friends are the people you want to have around you at your worst and not just at your best. They're the ones who you don't have to fear will judge you because you know they have your back no matter what.
I decided to share this with you all because the term time at Cambridge just ended and I know that while many students return home to see their friends and relax, others see their support network at Cambridge fall away with the beginning of the holidays and the departure of most people. If you're feeling lonely and you don't know what to do about it, there's actually lots you can do:
Phone a friend. Phone a helpline (don't worry about how serious your issue is - you can even call them if you just need to have a chat!). Don't know a helpline number? You can reach the Samaritans 24/7 at 116 123. You can also call Nightline where you can talk to other current students during term time: 01223 744444. Make an appointment to see your GP or College Nurse if you've been feeling like this for a while. Write down how you're feeling - letting it out through writing can be a relief.
And, most importantly, remember that it's okay not to be ok. Life gets hard sometimes and you're allowed to struggle. Give yourself space to struggle and to pick yourself up again. Give yourself time and be patient with yourself.
This article was inspired by an amazing friend who sent me a random message in the middle of the night about why she loves me and that I should never forget my worth and that I can always call her - no matter if it's 1pm or 1am. Simply knowing that someone is there for you makes things so much easier. I know that not everyone has a text like that on their phone. So if you don't, this is your text:
You're doing just fine. You may not feel fine right now, but you're making a difference in someone's life. You do matter. So thank you for being here. Thank you for your smiles and weird habits. Thank you for your obsessions and talents. Thank you for being you. And no matter what life throws at you, you can get through this. If you need help, you can always get it - call a family member, friend, or helpline. It doesn't matter which of them you call, but it matters that you call.
I know that this is a post that is very different from my usual posts, but I decided to share this since I felt it is important. I would also like to use this article to say thank you to all my amazing friends - you guys are the most inspiring, positive, and lovely human beings I have ever met!
Lots of love,