I am not a mental illness expert, but you don’t need to be one to be worried by the alarming rate of depression and suicide within our Kenyan universities. In July, a student committed suicide at Kenyatta University just because he felt that he was not good enough to pass his exams. What is the trigger of depression in university students? What causes students to take their own lives because of their exams or their education? What is the solution?
As someone who has gone through the school system with similar effort, I can say for sure that studying is not easy. Everyone around you (your peers, your family, bae e.t.c) piles pressure on you to be someone that most times you are not. You are judged by a series of exams about things you barely have interest in to determine whether you are smart or not. This determines whether you are acceptable in society or not. Not passing is determined as failure, and is often followed by rejection. Often, this unspoken rejection leaves a young person feeling less than worthless. They feel as if they are not good enough to be part of any society; often leading them to have suicidal tendencies. And we still wonder why suicide rates in learning institutions are going up.
We need to do something to reform the system and change how we evaluate success (or worthiness if I may call it that). However, that is a long term goal. In the meantime, as individuals, we need to adapt and harden ourselves so that the system does not kill us, literally. Students, this one is for you:
Going through school, I relied on something I called the Principle of F*ck distribution. Pardon the name. It was a system that helped me understand what truly mattered to me and helped me to allocate my time and my effort (basically my f*cks) accordingly.
To understand the principle of f*ck distribution, you have got to ask yourself two questions:
What truly matters? Often the answer is not only your books; it’s not only your grades or passing your exams. Often it's something much deeper than these. Often it’s a passion you have had e.g. a talent or a deeper purpose e.g. helping the needy or comedy. There is always something that truly matters. Identifying what truly matters to you is the first step to f*ck distribution.
Use this question to place your priorities in some form of a list. This should start from the most important to the least important. While listing, it is important to ensure that your order of priority is not influenced by what other people say is important. List exactly what you feel is important to you.
Once you answer these two questions, the principle of f*ck distribution is simple: Give more f*cks to the things that matter more.
Whenever something bogs you down, remember the things that truly matter to you. Remember that you value family more than your studies, or that you are more passionate about your guitaring more than you are about your technical course. Distribute your f*cks in this manner and you will be astounded by how less stressed you will always be.
This method worked for me through my most stressful times in campus. It allowed me to know that my studies were not the most important thing in my life. It made me understand that I needed to give more effort to other things in my life (including family and my relationships) and consequently, it helped me live a truly balanced life. You should try distributing your f*cks as well!