Attie: Normal people talk about feelings

Moises Attie, Op-Ed Contributor

You know what? We need to face it: normal people talk about feelings.

School is competitive, managing relationships is tough and having a boyfriend or girlfriend can be challenging. Not to mention, some of us spend a significant amount of time talking to our parents and friends over the phone. We are doing everything at the same time, every day. So, when are we supposed to talk about our feelings?

Before coming to Northwestern, I expected a more mental-health-conscious campus. Unfortunately, that is not the case: Counseling and Psychological Services needs obvious reform. CAPS’ efforts for outreach and mental health education are minimal, if any. Also, for the last months, students have been advocating for restructuring CAPS to enable universal and immediate therapy. 

However, more important than therapy, we should advocate for a caring social environment. To my disappointment, since Wildcat Welcome, I have rarely come across a poster promoting campus mental health and self-care resources. This makes me wonder if such resources really exist, and even if they do, how accessible they actually are if they are not advertised to students.

Self-care is the new trend. According to the 2021 Year In Search report published by Google Trends, “the world searched for how to maintain mental health more than ever before.” That resulted from society recognizing our human vulnerability after a long year of staying at home caused by COVID-19. However, feelings are not a topic of conversation at NU because they are not a priority here. 

Of course, CAPS should do a better job, but if they don’t, we will. I could never simplify this concept better than Viktor Frankl did in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Change is not easy, but everything is possible with each other’s support. 

We could make NU the most extensive peer support network in the world by simply talking about feelings and listening without judgment. We all have an active role in promoting mental health. I don’t mean to be idealistic. We all know that nothing is close to perfect. But at least this is an opportunity to normalize that not being okay is okay. 

We can change worlds if we care. Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common Project ran a nationwide survey to measure how much we value caring. They concluded that about two-thirds of people believe being a caring person is important or very important to them. We all need to care and feel cared for. 

This campus has the potential to become a safe space to be vulnerable and achieve its ultimate goal of supporting others to reach success, no matter your definition of success. It is not only about free therapy sessions, top-notch academic research, or a rigorous admissions process. 

If there’s one thing I wish to achieve from this article, it is that we talk more, not only about feelings but mental health too. For the years to come, I will continue contributing to this campus by being a good listener and also a person who talks about feelings. Dear friends: I am here for you. 

Moises Attie is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.