Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Depression is a depressing topic

I don't know about the rest of the quarterlifers out there, but I had always been described with words like cheerful, joyful, bubbly, and, my favorite, annoyingly happy.

Of course, this was all before graduating from college. My graduation was marked by more tragedy than most are - I went to my ceremony one day, and a high school classmate's funeral the next. That, more than anything, drove into my mind that this was real life, and I had to do everything in my power to make sure that I made the most of it.

This "real life" has proven harder than any exam I had to take or paper I had to write. There's no clear syllabus of what's coming next, or no guide as to what options are best for certain majors. Not prepared for the miriad of choices, I, the "annoyingly cheerful" one, suffered from bouts of depression. Which is hard to admit until you're lying on the floor in your parents' bedroom, sobbing that you have no skills and no direction in life. Every door seems closed, yet at the same time, too many seem open.

While reading the book "Quarterlife Crisis," I was encouraged/horrified to read that many quarterlifers suffer from depression during this time. Lack of funds, choices, and/or purpose can all lead to this.

I found the book "Quarterlife Crisis," ironically, too depressing to keep reading, but if you're interested in learning more about this new crisis, you should certainly check it out.

Too often lately I have been depending on circumstances to make me happy. If this continues, I realized, I won't be happy no matter the circumstance. I need to be content no matter my current job, social status, bank account statement, or housing arrangement.

When I spoke to some close friends about these depressing feelings, more than one suggested that I volunteer somewhere. "What?" I thought. "This is supposed to be about me, not about helping someone else. I'm the one that needs help."

Yet they had a point. Depression is a very self-centered feeling/disease. And volunteering is a great way to combat that. Not only do you help others, but you feel better about yourself, too. And not all volunteer positions are in soup kitchens or nursing homes. I did a Google search for volunteer options in my area, and found a non profit organization that was looking for a writer. I got some great experience, added to my portfolio, and broadened my horizons a bit, all while helping out others.

If you don't have time to commit to another organization or group, see if you can help out people you already know. Maybe a friend needs help with a move. Or perhaps your mom wants to organize all those old pictures. Your neighbor doesn't quite understand the difference between a mouse and a computer. I'm sure, if you look for it, you can find all sorts of people who are already in your life that could use your assistance in some matter. Don't be pushy, but be helpful. You'll help them with a task, and perhaps strengthen or build a relationship while you're helping.

If that's too much to think about right now, then just watch this amazing video by improv everywhere. It will make you laugh.


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