WuToWu #17: Community Mental Health

Hi Jessica,

I hope everyone at school is doing well and supporting each other. Because there are a lot of common social norms between Palo Alto and Harvard, I thought I would write about them.

I think its good to have moments of “existential vertigo” like those you mentioned in your last post, particularly because it pulls us out of the grind of day-to-day work. Not many people here know of the “Stanford Duck Syndrome,” (they prefer to call it the “Harvard Game Face”) but much of its mindset comes from focusing too much on the work we do each day. I might be framing this in a slightly hyperbolic fashion, but the “Stanford Duck Syndrome” is a dehumanizing perspective. It refuses to acknowledge emotions, relationships, and ideas which don’t have a bearing on one’s reputation. Accomplishment (whether social, academic, professional) overshadows everything.

I don’t know if you saw former-superintendent Kevin Skelly’s Facebook post, but it sets a great example for a way to change community perspectives of not just how we address mental health, but how we perceive ourselves. This doesn’t mean that you need to tell all your friends the same thing that you tell your therapist, but I think breaking down the “Stanford Duck Syndrome” would go a long way to creating a better community. Thinking meaningfully and sincerely about relationships, humanity, and values can help us figure out what we really want from life.

In personal news, I completed my pre-term planning, where you tell the college what you’re planning on taking next semester, which for me was organic chemistry, linear algebra, Expos, and a Freshman Seminar. Parents’ Weekend was a lot of fun, and I think mom enjoyed the a cappella concert and Insomnia Cookies(!) The Harvard-Yale concert is coming up, and one of the Glee Club members designed the wonderfully New Yorker-esque ad that is now my cover photo.

Also, I like that you added to the challenge with the Miranda voice. I’m sure over-dramatic actresses around the world were very proud of you.

Havarti.

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