Whether it’s mid-semester stress or social anxiety, editor Jenna Koch battles her mental health issues by putting her best foot forward. She advises other students to do the same in a more refined and positive-attitude “fake it ‘till you make it” strategy. (Art by Jenna Koch)
By Jenna Koch, Associate Editor-in-Chief
On Friday October 18, I did a remarkable thing. I woke up at 7 a.m. While it may not seem like an amazing feat for most, I’ve fallen into a routine lately of waking up 15 minutes before I have to leave.
I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. I’m freezing everyday (Prospect, please get a better heating system) and I’m lagging behind on my homework. My bullet journal system almost fell apart last week. Seasonal depression and mid-semester stress are back again, and worse than ever.
I dragged myself out of bed and put on my favorite outfit lately— my sister’s 2013 Chicago Zine Fest t-shirt tucked into black cords, and, of course, my favorite striped socks. I looked in the mirror and felt surprisingly ok and surprisingly ready for another dreary day.
I’ve found over my years in high school that what one wears does matter, but not in a shallow way. What I wear has a huge impact on how I feel, not how others treat me.
If I look like I just rolled out of bed, then that’s how i feel. Yet, even if I feel anxious or depressed or straight-up gross, putting on an outfit I actually like makes me feel as though I’m put together. I look as if I did do my homework, as if I didn’t wake up 10 minutes before school, and as if i’m not swimming in the stress of imminent seasonal depression and college applications.
With the extra time I had in the morning, I made myself an iced coffee in a slightly scuffed up reusable coffee cup. I walked into school with it to tell everyone, “See! I have my life together! Look at me! I had time to make coffee!” my friend noticed, chuckling as she said i walked into english class “coffee first.”
Sure, I didn’t actually do my homework (sorry, Mr. Camardella). I’m super behind on college apps. I’m not sure how I’ll get anything done this weekend with all I have going on. Yet, I felt great. The illusion of being ok is enough to improve my mood and attitude.
According to Psychology Today, a website focused on mental health, the “fake it ‘till you make it” strategy is akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By creating the appearance of being ok, I begin to actually play the part.
It’s important not to overdo it at the expense of not seeking help in actual emergencies. This strategy is great for coping with the little stuff, like a bad test grade or a busy week.
It can also work well for social anxiety, which I was held back by for a lot of high school. There’s a lot of things I never felt confident doing, such as interviews for this publication, wearing crop tops, participating in class, taking up too much space, being too loud, and much more.
By faking my confidence, I’ve pushed past the social anxiety “barrier” that kept me insecure in the first place. Now I do all of these things feeling genuinely secure in my own skin.
I’m constantly plagued by doubt, but I can cope with it by saying “Yeah, I’m pretty cool,” as I confidently strut down the hallway, with a coffee in hand and my favorite t-shirt on.