English teaching assistant Virginia Kovach encourages young adults to live their life free of societal standards and expectations. 

I'm a teaching assistant at Iowa State now, and this quiet space of social distancing — working at home and going for walks in nature — makes me reflective about many things as my first year in graduate school comes to a close.

This year, I have seen that many students struggle with mental health. Not all of them do, but many do. I struggle with it myself, and the struggles started in college. My heart hurts for these young people who live in an even more anxious time than the one I went to in college.
The anxiety in the world only makes the mental health struggles worse.

Students today are under an incredible amount of pressure. They face high student debt along with many other worries.
One thing I have noticed is the way social media affects them. Many of us know, now, that there have been studies that show a correlation between heavy social media use and depression. But it's not just depression.

One student this semester submitted an assignment in the English class I teach that he had posted "unprofessional" things on Facebook when he was 14! My heart breaks for these young people, many of whom don't know what it's like to make mistakes in a small way, rather than in front of so many unforgiving people online.

It is so easy now to spend most of the day looking at a screen. Thankfully, it's spring and we also feel drawn to walking outdoors and looking at the flowers and green on the leaves. I encourage you, my neighbors, especially the young ones, to enjoy the world around you.
You don't need to be perfect on Facebook or Twitter, you don't even need to be on them at all if they are hurting you. Your worth is greater than any amount of likes or swipes, right or left. Your worth is beyond measure, and your life is a gift. Don't let all the confusing voices of this world make you feel otherwise — and let yourself make mistakes. You don't need to be "professional" at 14!

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