I started giving advice to people on Reddit: Here’s what I learned

Image by Nicolette Michelle (aka me)

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’d like to dedicate this post to all the young adults out there that have struggled with finding their voices in society or that currently feel lost and defeated.

Many people might have already heard of the social networking site, Reddit, but believe it or not, Reddit was just one of those sites I never really bothered to read up on or get acquainted with until recently.

It wasn’t until a Friday night, wide-awake past midnight, that I suddenly found myself researching “college stress.” It was here when I came upon a subreddit (finally learning what they’re called now! *proudly pats self on back*) with people asking questions about college life and other people offering their advice.

I soon stumbled down the rabbit hole, and that same night, I finally made my Reddit account. Diligently, I started reading through the many threads of subreddits like “self,” “dating advice,” or “relationship advice.”

That’s when it hit me: there are a lot of teens to late twenty-something’s that really need advice, and they all happen to be on Reddit.

I found myself responding to at least 3–4 people that same night, and then the next day I found myself back in front of my laptop offering my perspective to more people I felt I had some insight to share with on their current predicaments.

I was almost shocked when I started receiving positive feedback and people telling me that my words really helped them.

And to quote one person,

I think you are literally the first person in my entire life to really understand. For this whole 8 years I have been dealing with this, there has not been a single person who understands where I was coming from.

So What Did I Learn?

Everyone is self-conscious to a certain degree.

After spending the weekend talking to many different people, I’ve realized that there are a lot of young people that worry about what their peers or what society thinks of them, or feel they are worthless and not enough.

My Advice: One of the most important things you can do in life is to be yourself. Everyone worries about being judged, but when we radiate confidence, we open our world to a lot more possibilities and people admire that. We attract what we put out.

How do I do this?: Remind yourself of your worth and do the things that make you happiest. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people as much as possible and drop toxic friends! Stick to your passions and always remember to tell yourself that you matter. You are deserving of the best and f*ck what society thinks of you. Only the bold, the brave, and those not afraid to embrace their differences stand out the most and help add a little more color to the world.

People mistakenly think finding love or a partner will fill that empty void inside their hearts

On Reddit, I noticed I found myself responding the most to the relationships and dating subreddits because that’s actually something I have a lot of experience with. So many people feel alone and like they just want someone to call their own, especially when it seems like so many people around us have someone special in their lives to experience every day life with.

My Advice: Almost everyone wants love and this is a universal feeling. A lot of people just want to feel validated, and this is why I always like to stress that although it’s good to have our feelings validated, at the end of the day, it’s so important that we validate ourselves. Trust me, it took me years to come to terms with this. What people forget is that in the end, they really are the key to their own happiness.

Constantly on the hunt for a partner is not the end goal. You have to live and experience life before you can attract a worthy partner.

It’s also dangerous to constantly compare ourselves to others, so when people think “well all my friends are in relationships and I’m not,” or “I have to have a significant other by the age of whatever,” then you are feeling pressured by society and get stuck in a mindset that you will always be destined to be alone.

Remember this:

It’s completely okay to experience life at your own pace.

How do I do this?: Become your own best friend. I’ve noticed that most people are frustrated at the saying “you have to love yourself first before you can love anyone else,” and I totally understand why they’d feel annoyed. Especially those that suffer from mental illness and take much longer to feel happy being alone, or spend their whole lives battling with their own self-fulfillment.

If you are not in a current romantic relationship, I tell people that this is the perfect time to invest in themselves. Meaning, at the end of the day, we only have ourselves and shouldn’t always rely on others to lift us up. It’s also during these times when we’re focusing on ourselves that we meet future partners when we least expect it.

Basically, just live your life and get out there and have as much fun as possible, even if you have good and bad days. Experience and learn from the bad days, but always feel grateful for the good.

  • put passion into your hobbies and/or challenge yourself to find a new hobby
  • invest in your career
  • learn a new language
  • make new friends with goals (being around people that are constantly motivating is always inspiring and helps keep us on our toes)
  • learn how to cook a new dish you can see yourself eating for the rest of your life (everyone has to eat and cooking is a great skill to have!)
  • invest in your health and exercise whenever you can
  • do one good deed for someone every week or month, no matter how small
  • ask yourself what is it about you that you would like to change
  • seek out a mentor
  • start journaling and write everything out — hold nothing back
  • join an organization relating to your interests or join a support group
  • take as many opportunities when you can, even if they scare you at first

In the end, people just want someone to listen to them and remind them that they are not alone

I think one of the biggest things I learned giving advice to people is that it’s not necessarily what advice you provide them with, but how you provide that advice. It’s all about empathy and compassion.

Many people have no one to really turn to, or they feel self-conscious and uncertain about their emotions, or what steps they should take to overcome their current problems.

The key is to not just offer your condolences, but to always provide a solution, and in a compassionate and relatable way.

Over the years when I tried to reach out to others and help them feel a little better about themselves, I figured out that some people really don’t want to listen to you or they feel like you are being condescending towards their problems or feelings. And I totally understand this.

This is why now I really try to approach people and their issues by not acting like I’m shoving my opinions down their throats, but by also reminding them that what they’re feeling is normal and valid, and depending on the situation, how I once too, felt what they felt.

I also remind them that it takes a lot of time and patience to get to a good state of mind and how I know it’s not easy and how it takes a lot of challenges and mental strength to get there.

Every day is different and sometimes we need to just go through the emotions and feel what we feel.

Nothing is ever permanent.

I spent half of my twenties feeling lost, alone, confused, and defeated. And that’s totally fine and perfectly normal. Everyone goes through ups and downs, and when we’re still fairly new to life, it can feel overwhelming at times, especially when we have no guidance.

Now at the end of my twenties, I am at a much better place now where I can offer guidance to others. It really makes me feel good inside that I am at least able to encourage people to believe in themselves a little more often.

Always take each day at a time, you are not alone.

Thank you for reading. Visit Mental Health America for more info or how to get involved.

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Nicolette Michelle Herrera

I write and take photographs. Just another person on the Internet. Based in Los Angeles. https://linktr.ee/nicomichelle