Something happens when we grow up and have jobs and bills and responsibilities, we seem to forget how difficult the journey was. We look back at teenagers and preteens, shake our heads and say, "they don't know how easy they have it."
But a recent Humans Of New York photo proves those sentiments wrong. Sometimes, growing up is anything but easy.
“I don’t think I’m going to miss eighth grade," the post begins. "It’s been a tough year."
The young girl featured in the photo mentioned that she has seen many of her friends struggle with depression and self-harm in the past year, which is difficult for her to witness as someone who cares for them.
"Growing up is so hard for some people," she says. "It’s such a big thing. It’s your foundation, I guess. You’re becoming you."
Figuring out who you're going to be isn't as simple as adults often seem to remember — it's a big deal, and can often be a struggle.
"Some of my friends are struggling with loving themselves and loving life," she says. "I think they forget that we’re still learning. They think that they’re already who they’re going to be. They think they know the future. And it’s going to be horrible. And they’ll never be able to fix it."
While it certainly isn't true that this girl's friends have already become the people they will always be, it's not surprising that many of them feel the need to have a set identity already. We're often in such a rush to grow up and gain independence that it can feel like we need to have our lives together.
Self-harm is often used as a way to cope with the stress of that, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"The urge to hurt yourself may start with overwhelming anger, frustration or pain," according to NAMI. "When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release."
Young people commonly turn to self-harm because they're feeling emotionally disconnected from parents or peers, they feel invisible, or are overwhelmed by pressure from parents, friends, or responsibilities, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
While feelings of depression and emotional distress that often lead to self-harm are complicated and personal, the girl featured in this HONY post points to at least one reason her friends may be feeling this way — they've been expected to grow up too fast. And now their identities seem to be stuck in place.
"But that’s not true because we’re still changing," she says. "And we’ll always be changing. Even when we’re old, we’ll be changing.”
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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