When being emotional is seen as ‘cool’

School and work are bursting diverse personalities that can really shape your opinions. Coming from a class of students with big and sometimes abrasive personalities, I’ve learned to appreciate the honesty and directness of the way my peers communicate. Being around people who say whatever is on their mind has in some cases left me feeling that there are people who act a certain way to get attention.

Depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are frequent terms I hear from teens to describe themselves. Before taking a psychology class last year, I would be the first person to roll my eyes at people, and assume they were throwing out those terms as a way to get more attention. I felt they, in fact, believed it was cool to say they were characterized like this.

But after studying psych, the truth is, anxiety, depression and OCD are far more common than I realized. The key concept? Being mindful that disorders have broad characteristics that narrow into specific diagnoses based on a person’s symptoms.

Part of being human is that every person on the face of this Earth is different. People may say things or do things or even feel certain ways that we may not understand.

Nolan O’Keefe, a senior at Muhlenberg, said, “I don’t really see it as them thinking it’s cool. I genuinely think that kids are truly overwhelmed, and they feel like they have anxiety.”

I think another problem lies in the lack of knowledge of what these disorders really are.

“As someone with OCD, I can say it is not cool,” said a Muhlenberg senior, who added, “It’s embarrassing because I always have the urge to organize things and people make fun of me. It is not fun.”

Although every mental disorder is serious, depression is something I take very seriously. I know people who battle depression – more people than I ever thought I would – which is crazy when you look at them. Why? Because you would never think a person who is so fun and outgoing would secretly struggle.

If I ever hear teens say they are depressed, I hope they are not joking because at this age they must realize it is not cool. I’m sure anyone who has been clinically diagnosed would tell you that depression isn’t fun, and it’s something they have to learn to live with. I would be embarrassed if a teen used depression in the context of being cool just because it shows a lot of ignorance.

Soon enough, though, everyone will grow up. Teens will mature, and any fad of teens seeing being emotional as cool will fade.