This app is very personal for me. In a way, it embodies the entirety of my life — my proclivities, philosophies, and struggles.
When I just entered University, I came in as a promising student with an AEO status, 94.1 entrance average, Double Major in HBA/MIT Honors, with stellar extracurriculars under my belt. However, what seems like a lifetime of achievements and success to many at the age of 18 did not feel like I deserved any of that. I felt like a fraud growing up as an immigrant in Canada from Korea, I always felt like an outsider and put on an exterior to laugh off racial comments, to always perform well externally in school, to be the best in sports, and also not come short in the department of music and art. While I held all of these spectacular achievements, I felt empty inside as I always kept my distance with other people — I was terrified of intimacy for all my life and being honest and real with who I am. After being subjected to racial comments/discrimination at a young age, I simply internalized the idea that I was different — a mindset of “me” vs. “them” — and never really opened myself up to “Canadian” people and was always competing to be recognized and acknowledged. And maybe this was just to be “somebody” that was smart, good at soccer, or played the piano really well. Even when people liked me and even when I liked them much, I always kept my distance, because I was afraid.
Ultimately, when I came to university and was surrounded by similarly accomplished people, when everyone starts off fresh, and I was suddenly reduced to a nobody, I had the most difficult time transitioning into my new environment. As is for many who enter the post-secondary institution of higher learning, we were the top of our classes, maybe the popular ones in school, and definitely the happy ones. And I just want to say that I spiralled down into a pit of depression. Not only was I surrounded by people who were smarter, more vocal, and more active, I started to compare myself to those people. And most importantly, I did not know how to make friends, because I’ve never had one, so I had none. And the more socially isolated I got, the more defensive and afraid I became to open up my miserable self to other people — especially because I was so successful and popular in high school. I rotted away internally while putting on thicker facade externally, trying to blend in with everyone else who seemed to be having the best time of their lives in University.
What I want to say is that this is a story that is very specific to my own experience — though I know I am not alone in this — and I want to bring to attention the concepts of alienation, social isolation, self-criticism, constant comparing, a sense of disconnect, fear of intimacy, and the fear of being honest with yourself. What was so crippling to me, and what continues to be so crippling to many, is not that we are smaller than our problems, but that the environment that surrounds us today not only facilitates this problem, but it also precludes our healing process by curtailing us of each other.
As learned by psychiatry, social support is paramount to one’s psychological well-being. If we weren’t living in a culture so competitive, constantly evaluating, and pitting us against each other, we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. If we weren’t living in a culture obsessed with material things and marked by short attention spans on screens, we would pay more attention to the people around us. And if we could embrace a more supportive culture, maybe people wouldn’t feel so strange about offering help or receiving help, and maybe I would have been able to connect with someone so I could face my problems and grow through them.
But, still, the reality is that there are social stigmas and cultural norms: it is weird to talk to other people on the bus, it is normal to keep to yourself… While the contemporary society continues to fragment us and diminish our humanity.
And as understood by all, our contemporary culture is one marked by
building supportive social circles that, as underscored by all psychiatrists, but most importantly, not being in an environment conducive to facilitating healthy relationships and building social support with other people that facilitate the healing process. Our culture and society today are more than ever dehumanized and fragmented. We live in an age of
and there are others who aren’t seeking out for help, I know that almost everyone do go through experiences of alienation, social isolation, or beating yourself down, comparing yourself with other people, and being afraid of intimacy, or being afraid to be honest with yourself. On a side note, one of the things I’ve learned in University meeting so many different and like-minded people is that I’m not so special as I thought I was — even my problems. If you are one of those people stubborn like me not to seek out for help, it may be because you are feeling shame for your problems. But trust me, after being stubborn for 2 years and finally seeking out for help, I found out that there were so many other people than I could even conjure who were going through the same things as I were. You are not a freak, and you are not alone in your own problems. In fact, they are quite common, as you will find out, so go seek out for help, and don’t be stubborn. It helps!
This side note actually brings me to my next point, which is how I got this idea for the app. So after a blissful 4 years in high school, I had a traumatic 4 years in University. I made this app for people like me, who are struggling with the lack of social support.