In high school I was obsessed with the idea of happiness, not with actually being happy. I didn’t care about being happy. I cared about appearing happy. I carried this happy-go-lucky persona with me to college. I was able to maintain it for most of freshman year but second semester sophomore year it finally cracked. I was too unhappy to care if people knew I was unhappy. I was too unhappy to care about most things. But I still wouldn’t admit that I was miserable: I was apathetic, I was numb, I was (my favorite excuse) sophomore-slumping, but, I kept insisting that I was not unhappy. I never blamed Yale though or the culture it perpetuates. I thought it was me. I thought that I wasn’t trying hard enough to be happy or that I just wasn’t enough and thus didn’t deserve to be happy.
And yes part of the blame was on me—when you won’t even admit the fact that you’re unhappy it is very hard to change the reality of it—but part of it was on Yale for fostering an environment where we feel we don’t have permission to say we we’re not happy, that we can’t do that, that we’re not coping. I used to look at people who did everything, well everything but sleep, and I would beat myself up because as hard as I tried I couldn’t do that or be that. And then one day I realized that was okay. Once I opted out of the Yale ideal I actually began to enjoy Yale—instead of just appearing to enjoy it.