What needs to change is our understanding of mental health. It starts with taking the time to learn about common mental disorders and understanding how to support loved ones who may be facing them. It starts with accepting the discomfort that comes with conversations about mental health. It starts with understanding the impact of your words and refraining from using the names of serious disorders as casual adjectives like "Stop being so OCD" or "He’s being bipolar today." It starts with understanding the lines behind which jokes should stay — a line that the disgustingly common joke phrase “kill yourself” clearly crosses. It starts with taking all concerns of self-harm and self-endangerment seriously regardless of circumstance. It starts with being the friend who encourages someone to find professional help when they feel like they need it but simply are not in the state to find it. Sometimes, it starts with simply listening.
Registration season is upon us! It’s one of my favorite parts of the semester. Pouring over the course schedule and meticulously fashioning the perfect arrangement of classes (and 10 alternates) is just so deeply satisfying.
I have a file somewhere on my computer called “Books”. It lists all of the books I’ve read since the summer, all of the books I’m currently reading, and all of the books I want to read. Every few weeks, inspired by a good review or a piqued curiosity, I go on Amazon or AbeBooks and buy something new to read, and my list gets longer.
I have a troubling relationship with vacations. Don’t get me wrong – I love them. I wouldn’t complain much if life was just a series of summer, winter, and spring breaks. But somewhere in high school, breaks lost their golden sweetness and took on an anxious flavor.
Besides the people I have come to know and love, one of my favorite things about life in a cooperative is getting to try new food.
For those unfamiliar with the co-op system at UT, we are hinged on two basic principles. The first is that we vote on issues democratically, and the second is that we all take part in shared household labor.
This semester was the first time all of my CS classes were upper division elective courses. It was giddying to have complete freedom after semesters of following a mandated path (even if it was an interesting mandated path). Two of the courses I ended up taking were Introduction to Data Mining and Introduction to Computational Linguistics (from the Linguistics Department). Several weeks ago, I started noticing that a lot of concepts from the two classes were overlapping. My linguistics professor would mention a classifier that was used to categorize words from a body of text and then the next week I would learn how to implement a version of that classifier from scratch in my data mining class. This happened several times and one week we went over the same probability and statistics concepts in both classes in order to lay a foundation for other concepts we would be learning.
This Saturday morning, I volunteered at UT Austin’s Girl Day. This is an event designed to help girls gain enthusiasm for STEM fields in order to hopefully shrink gender disparities in these fields in the future.
My part in this massive event with thousands of attendees and volunteers was fairly simple. I showed visitors a few lines of C++ code they could manipulate, and cheered them on when their edits led to holiday lights attached to an Arduino board changing color.
Complain, complain, complain. People complain a lot. Even I’ve done my fair share of complaining. Even though scientific studies have shown the negative effects of complaining, you can listen in any public space and hear complaints being traded back-and-forth like baseball cards. Despite the detrimental qualities, when all else fails, griping and grumbling is the glue that brings people together. It’s an easy conversation starter. Any stranger can sympathize with you over the horrible morning traffic or your neighbors stupid dog that won’t stop howling at the moon.
In 7th grade, I had a math teacher who told the class homework should be done in complete silence. That meant no TVs on in the background, no headphones in our ears, and no friends to talk to nearby.
So I took his advice, and began to sit down at my desk trying to work as if I was in a monastery. This was the beginning of a struggle and dislike of math that lasted for the next three years, and only ended when I began to relax my extremely harsh “no distractions” rule.
Starting this past Sunday, a day hasn’t passed where I haven’t gotten down on my knees to thank whichever deity is in charge making sure your muscles and bones heal after you’ve overused them. (Most people call that deity science or nature, but believing in some kind of magic is far more fun.