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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: You don’t have to be OK to be OK

Alison Krug

Newsroom director Alison Krug

“Why is everyone here crying?”

I looked up from my bench in Coker Arboretum to see a small boy with both arms thrown in the air staring straight at me.

“She’s just reading!” The Morehead camp counselor shushed the boy and hurried the boy and the rest of the small herd of children away as I buried my face in my copy of “Confessions of a Shopaholic: Shopaholic Ties the Knot” that I was definitely not reading.

The boy stared suspiciously in my direction as he toddled away.

It had been a long week. Some time near the end of spring semester, still in the clutches of midterms and approaching the grasp of finals, there were just an overwhelming amount of stressors clouding my day: homework, final projects, internships, Villanova, work, not being positive when I last cleaned my bathroom, my cat allergy and more homework.

When things pile up like this, I head into the arboretum to my second-favorite bench (my favorite bench is for reading and artsy Instagrams). Sitting under the green canopy and isolated by the faint buzz of traffic from Cameron Avenue, it’s easy to feel like you’re very small and your problems are very big.

Sometimes you need a place to sit and think and feel your feelings and embrace your stress. But what I got (and needed) was an important reminder:

“Everyone here is crying.”

It’s a reminder we all need from time to time, and hopefully it’s less embarrassing to have it come from this column and not a perplexed 8 year old from the Morehead Planetarium’s after-school program.

I spent most of my first two years at UNC trying to pretend like I was as cool as a cucumber, but really I was a very flustered cucumber who cried to Tracy Chapman songs in the dorm lounges a lot.

We never really talk about how hard the first year of college is during that first year.

I was so positive I was the only one who kept no fewer than three transfer applications open on my computer at all times, the only one who felt my old hobbies weren’t as interesting to me anymore, the only one who worried about not getting enough sleep and then heard of friends’ all-nighters and then worried about getting too much sleep.

There are always going to be people with problems bigger than yours, and there are always going to be people with problems smaller than yours. I’m not here to tell you your problems aren’t a big deal or that you should lose yourself in self-pity: I’ve learned there’s a time to just suck it up, and there’s a time to weep to “Karma Chameleon” blaring on repeat. There’s a time to look into resources offered by UNC, like CAPS. There’s a time to apologize to your roommates for how often you blare “Karma Chameleon.”

There’s a time to remember that everybody here is crying, but everybody here is also trying and studying and having fun and working and being so much more than their difficult moments.

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