Is it our job to recognize struggles?

Megan Keane, Columnist

I, unfortunately, know a ton people that will only offer help when there’s personal gain involved. And, yes, there’s always a little bit to gain personally when you help someone. You feel good that you did a good thing—or, at the very least, you feel useful. That’s not enough of a motivator for a lot of us, but why not?

Do we only recognize the signs of a struggling friend when it directly affects us? In my personal experience, I’ve found this to be the case. Is your friend’s bad mood tolerable until they’re not in the mood to do something you want them to do? Is their severe anxiety all right until they overreact to something you do, and then it becomes “not OK” and “my friend needs help”? Do you only help your mom bring in the groceries when you know she’s bought something just for you?

Some of you may be thinking I’m being overdramatic or cynical, but some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s insane to me that people don’t offer help until it’s inconveniencing them. And that goes for just about everything. I’m talking addiction, the weight of housework and endless grocery bags; people don’t help until they have a clear motivator or until it’s directly affecting them.

In light of  the Netflix shows “13 Reasons Why” and “Russian Doll,” I think there’s more of a social pressure to be aware of and sensitive to peoples’ needs and struggles. These two shows specifically deal with mental health struggles, I suppose. If you think about it though, any stressor in one’s life can impact their mental health.

Does everything have to be a social transaction? As I’ve stated before, there is personal gain from being helpful. So, even though it may not seem like it, helping a struggling someone is a transaction. For some reason, feeling good for helping someone else doesn’t seem to be a great motivator.

I know I used to hate when I would clean the bathrooms when my sister was supposed to and she’d never return the favor. I’d hate when I’d take any coworker’s shift, and they’d never take mine when I needed them to. Expectations are the worst. If we only do something with the expectation that the favor will be returned, we’ll be sorely let down.

Do we have a responsibility to each other? As social beings that need connection, I’d say yes, duh, obviously. Will we take on that responsibility? I don’t mean to be terribly pessimistic, but … I doubt it. I, for one, am going to reach out to my friends and family members starting today. Everybody’s struggling with something—myself included—and I’d like to help, if I can.

Megan Keane is a senior English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].