An Open Letter To College Students: It’s Not O.K. to Not Be O.K.

Mental Breakdowns are not normal.

 

During my freshman year of college I experienced – what became – the first of a series of mental breakdowns. School-work & real-work, family & friends, responsibilities & relationships, and life in general consumed me with such a rapidness that my naivety was immediately exposed – I felt completely helpless.

Mental breakdowns are – in essence – the mind deciding that our actions, habits, and practices spanning the diverse aspects of our very being have strayed too far from their true purpose. The mind would rather issue a complete life stop & do NOTHING than allow you to continue along practices that stray you from your purpose! When central control makes such a drastic decision, it speaks volumes about the gravity of the situation – bad.

Over my years as a student, I came to discover that a mental breakdown is the cumulative effort of several poor investments in life’s most precious resource – time. When time is invested in vehicles that run against the fundamental aspects of your very being (such as in spending time with fake friends when you truly value your relationships with others, in constantly stressing over completing assignments when you truly value your leisure time, and in watching mundane television specials when you truly value mentally stimulating activities), you are left holding a terrible excuse of an investment portfolio with The Great Recession looming around the corner.

R.E.L.A.X.

 

We can divest investment portfolio of poor time investments, we just need to first get rid of our feebleminded financial advisor – YOU. No, you aren’t going to be “taken out”, but your mindset may need to be straightened out. Luckily, the process for reversing years of bad time investments begins with an investment that takes only minutes.

An entire psyche shift needs to occur that will no longer permit the minor annoyances that float through our lives to aggregate. In order to effectively untangle the mental webs that clog our consciousness and begin to oil the Practice FROM Purpose machine, we need to physically declutter. A designated space needs to emerge that will allow you to fully de-stress and mentally declutter Every. Single. Day. We need to create a safe space, a mental refuge, a sanctuary.

Everyday, consciously strive to not curse the red lights, but rather bring attention to and become gratuitous of the many green

For me, my room became my sanctuary. I do not enter its sacred grounds unless I have nothing that I need to or wish to do. Shoes are removed before entering and food is forbidden. My room is my temple and I treat it as such. It is honestly one of the most comfortable, open, and simplistic places I have ever visited – which alludes to why I only am there when I want to relax!

I typically will NOT be found in my room unless I am feeling some sort of accomplishment. It forces a self-diagnosed case of classical conditioning which leaves me cognitively associating success with my room. Whether I am coming off of a 20 hour grind session or just a cozy Saturday morning jog, entering my room is entering into a special zone – one in which I AM FREE.

 

What is creation without design?

 

Before clearing the clutter to create your mental sanctuary, pay special mind to the form it erects. You can designate a space specifically for mentally detox, but if it is poorly designed – say, in the corner of your flat that is never used because it is near the noisy neighbors – it will serve little purpose.

I clean my room everyday. Every morning is spent tidying up my room and making my bed – regardless of how silly the practice is – because when I return from life’s daily hustle, I want to enter an appealing and inviting zone. (I recently came across an advertisement that said 99% of college students vacuum less than once a month. I’m finally a 1 percenter!)

Designing a self-sanctuary will go lengths towards reversing your time investments. You will rediscover your unique self in a world that so often forces us to integrate. Stepping into your sanctuary, you will enter a realm where you will regain your individual from the sea of conformity just outside. In a world where we become so conscious of what is on the outside, find the inside.

 

Design efficiency. Design space. Design life.

That’s Lifestyle Design.