“Did you get a return offer?” A question that I’ve been asked dozens of times upon running into friends and acquaintances since returning to Cornell last month.
“Do you know what you’re doing next year yet?” A question that I know I am not the only senior to receive over and over again in the past month.
“How are you feeling this week?” A question I’ve been asked rarely, if at all, in my time at Cornell.
We spend a lot of time talking about how CAPS has a long wait time and not enough therapists, and how the mental health resources on this campus need to be improved.
But I think Cornell’s mental health crisis starts a hell of a lot earlier than that.
A few weeks ago I posted the meme below to the meme page “Cornell: Any Person, Any Meme.” The meme received some of the most engagement of all the memes I’ve ever posted: nearly 1,500 likes and over 50 comments.
So why is this important?
It’s important because when I run into a friend on campus, I don’t want them to ask if I’m returning to the big company I worked for this summer just because they recognized the brand name. I don’t want to be asked if I know what I’m doing in a year. That does nothing to help my mental health; instead, it puts pressure on me to hide what I’m feeling and increases my anxiety about finding a job.
My anxiety keeps me from going to class some afternoons, I can’t go to the career fair because I have panic attacks in big crowds, and I had to stop drinking regularly because it was ruining my emotional health — what would actually help me is a space to talk about these emotions. For once I want to be asked how my mental health is, not what job I’m going after. I want to know that my friends will support me through the hard times, not just if I’m getting offers from big companies.
It starts long before CAPS. It starts with how we talk to each other on this campus, by asking how you’re doing, how your week has been, how you’re taking care of yourself.
So next time you want to complain about how CAPS doesn’t have enough therapists (it doesn’t, but it’s a work in progress), ask yourself instead what kind of conversation you’re spreading on campus and how you’re doing your part. Next time you go to ask someone if they got a return offer, ask how their week is going instead.
Rachel Goffin is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Guest Room runs periodically this semester. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.