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We are not the experts of ourselves.

Written in


Note: this was written after a tragic event at my university. If you are in crisis, please reach out to any resource available to you.

A student at my university jumped off a bridge in a moment of sorrow and desperation. While much can be discussed about him, I want to talk about us — especially you.

You can endure hardship, because you are strong. You can triumph over impossible odds, because you are courageous. You can ask for help, because you are wise.

However, in a world where you can read a self-care article or watch a do-it-yourself video on almost any subject, an illusion persists that you can be a self-help or do-it yourself expert of anything, and this spirit of self-teaching is dangerously misleading, because you are not the expert of yourself.

How much technology will you break before you realize that computer maintenance is not the same as computer repair? How many cars will you break before you realize that vehicle maintenance is not the same as engine disassembly? How many injuries will you incur before you realize that exercise is not the same as athletic performance? How many F’s, D’s, and C’s will you get before you realize that studying is not the same thing as tutoring?

These questions can go on forever, but I want you to read the following question out loud. “How much will I break myself before I realize that self-care is not the same thing as professional help?”

Had I been able to ask myself this question, I may have never been chronically homeless, chronically unemployed, and chronically unhealthy. It took, though, an expert. The expert was not me. And that’s okay.

Yes, you can perform personal maintenance, and yes, you should perform personal maintenance. As for comprehensive personal enrichment and rehabilitation found through counseling — do that work with the experts. Universities are rich with expanding opportunities to join healthy communities and get confidential counseling. Look in the mirror, think in earnest, and be okay with the truth: it’s okay to take yourself in for a tune-up.

“give” is licensed under CC0 1.0

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