What do you envision your future to look like? Some people have strict five-year plans, while others prefer to play things day-by-day. I only have a few definite plans for the future: see the world, get my parents a retirement, and inspire a short-lived TV show based on exaggerated details about my life. Most importantly, however, in no future scenario do I ever intend for myself or my friends to ever go without the support we need.
This column is about mental health — and something that is beneficial, if not necessary, for your mental health is a support network: ties to a set of people in which you all take responsibility for monitoring each other’s well-being and offering unconditional support.
A year ago I chose to defer an offer to a New Zealand university. I gambled on an acceptance to Harvard but seeing that this was something of a pipe dream, I expected to end up with a gap-year and the opportunity to travel. Back then I couldn’t have guessed how drastically things would change, or how New Zealand would be one of few countries operating normally. While my friends were at university, long after my country’s lockdown had finished, I was still living in my house as if in quarantine.
Everything on my screen was part of a different reality. Zoom meetings and assignments sapped all my time and energy and the thought of doing something unrelated to schoolwork, something just for my personal benefit, never even crossed my mind. It was too easy for my time to be divided between studying and sitting around feeling defeated.