In a generation of so much digital influence, we often take things for granted, such as the ability to see our friends beyond our screens.

Yet we underestimate the volume of our voices, whether that is something as simple as posting information to educate someone else, or sharing our point of view.

Gen Z’s are incredibly persistent. And that’s what we need right now. 

In a time when cases of the deadly coronavirus disease are still spreading. In a time when remote school and restrictions put our whole country on pause. In a time when the first viral hashtag and headlines after the murder of George Floyd became Black Lives Matter posts and protests. 

Through it all, we keep going. But it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Here are three topics that have challenged our generation this year, and also where I see hope in the midst of them.

Virus Crisis

Without the ability to leave our houses or see our friends, we have felt a strong sense of loneliness this year. We no longer have many social aspects of life; it feels like everything is virtual. We have no physical escapes, and this takes a huge toll on mental health. 

Everyone is being affected, especially if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health disorder. Mental health is not the trend social media portrays it to be. Mental health disorders can have a negative connotation, but it is a topic that we have to normalize. 

As a society, we have created a place where many feel they have to hide their emotions and thoughts out of fear of being judged. Especially during times like this, it is so easy to fall into a dark place and forget that your feelings are valid. 

If you are down, anxious or overwhelmed, it’s okay. As Gen Z-ers, I think we are starting to normalize these emotions and make it OK to get help. If you need support, reach out to a friend or adult you trust. What you feel is normal and you are not alone. 

No matter what you’re going through, help is available. Call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. Learn more at ColoradoCrisisServices.org.

Social Media as a Voice

The use of social media has been crucial during this pandemic — as an outlet, a haven, a place to find new friends or a tool to spread awareness. Our voices can be shared simply by tapping a screen. 

Gen Z-ers are also sharing their voices in a powerful way on this platform. 

For example, Instagram alone has 7 million+  posts under the #BLM hashtag. As a community, we used social media to mourn the lives lost and try to understand the day-to-day life of our Black friends and neighbors. In order to show our support, we use social media to spread awareness and share what we have learned. 

Although it isn’t perfect, this is a powerful tool.  

Staying Connected Through Change

The people you chose to keep in your life —whether it be in a pandemic or not —can heavily influence who you are as a person. Relationships affect our behaviors, mental health, and even physical health.

This year, I think our society is realizing that the internet is an amazing place to find people who understand you. Connecting with even one person can make all the difference. 

In addition, you can use social media or other channels to be a positive influence in someone else’s life. Comfort a friend. Tell someone it’s going to be okay. These are simple ways to spread happiness in times like these. Even just complimenting someone you’re not so close to can make their day. 

Who is that person in your life you can always count on? 

For me, that’s my best friend. We check up on each other daily, remind one another of things we need to hear, or just make each other laugh. The little things matter so much more now. Not only does he keep me sane but he also motivates me to educate myself and keeps me in check. 

One day, my dad and I were on our way home from a store when we were pulled over. We did not receive a ticket or warning because we did nothing wrong, but it made me anxious. I was scared. As a person born in the United States but also a minority, I worried it was a racial confrontation. 

Once I got home, I called my best friend and we spent hours on the phone. We listened to music, talked about our lives and beliefs, and took a trip down memory lane. My favorite memory of that night was looking through pictures from when we spent New Years Eve together. My best friend calmed me down and even made me laugh, which was just what I needed.

Take Care of Yourself

In conclusion, it’s okay if you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed after recent events. It is important that we all give each other grace and also take care of ourselves.

Having someone there for you makes life more enjoyable and makes the hard times a little easier. But at the same time, we all have days where we don’t necessarily want to talk to anyone. That’s okay. Wanting to be alone isn’t a bad thing because we all need time for ourselves. 

Take time on a regular basis to do something just for you.

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