10 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old-Self About Mental Health: Lessons From “Bama Rush”

Last night, I finished “Bama Rush”, a documentary of the sorority rush experience at the University of Alabama. Six courageous young women expressed their deepest thoughts and emotions about the overwhelmingly negative experience.

A common theme revolved around self-esteem, anxiety, and the struggle to practice good mental health while trying to be accepted by their prospective sorority sisters. At times, my heart ached and I wanted to find these young women through the TV, hug them, and tell them what I wanted them to know about mental health and what I’d now tell my 18-year-old self.

10 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old-Self About Mental Health:

  1. You’re not fat. PERIOD.
  2. You are beautiful.
  3. True friendships take time. Meaningful friendships won’t happen in a day, a week, or a month. If you find three true friends in your lifetime, you are blessed.
  4. You’ll deal with judgment your entire life. Love yourself for who you are.
  5. No one else is like you. Own it, shout it from a mountain top. Don’t blend in. Your uniqueness is what attracts people to you!
  6. Boys are stupid. Don’t let any boy determine your self-worth.
  7. Trust your instincts when it comes to friends. You’ve got it right- Find your tribe, find the women in your life who build you up, empower you, and bring you joy. If they don’t… find new women.
  8. Love yourself.
  9. Life is chaotic by nature, and that’s alright. You’ll never have all the answers, and it’s never going to completely fit in place. That’s alright.

Finally, number 10.

Give yourself grace and permission to fail. You don’t have to be perfect. Some of your worst mistakes and failures will be the beginning of some of your best life journeys.


Bonnie L. Cook, MAS
Executive Director of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas

About Mental Health America of Greater Dallas (MHA – Greater Dallas):
MHA - Greater Dallas, founded in 1947, proudly celebrates its 75th anniversary of community service. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, our mission is to promote mental wellness through community education and policy advocacy. MHA – Greater Dallas serves as a catalyst to identify, assess, and respond to mental health needs in the community. As a facilitator and coordinator for local mental health service providers, MHA-Greater Dallas operates through long-range strategic planning along with immediate responses to community crises as they arise. In addition to our efforts to supply information, education, and advocacy related to mental health issues, we also provide preventive programs designed to equip high-risk populations (including children, adolescents, the homeless, and the indigent) with information and skills to combat stress and adversity. Learn more: www.mhadallas.org.

Scroll to Top