I sat in the back of church ready to feed my starving stomach. Slightly annoyed at the length of this particular service, the pastor immediately caught my attention with the next words he spoke. In a very serious and focused tone he uttered, “if anyone has thought or attempted suicide this week, I need them to please come to the stage right now.” With hesitation and roaming eyes, one brave soul stood up and slowly trudged down the quiet aisle. Two followed. Then three. Then Four. And soon there were over 25 people on that stage, balling there eyes out because they had been carrying a secret of depression and anxiety that not even their family knew. I cried my eyes out. I realized that African-Americans and millennials in particular had created a taboo of seeking help to get healing. And it shows up time and time again.

Yesterday, Kid Cudi released a heart-wrenching status of how he was checking into a facility for his severe depression and suicidal urges. Over and over he explained how ashamed he was to admit that he had been living an illusion of what the world wanted him to be because of how people viewed him. How many of us do this on our road to success? Maybe for you it isn’t depression but an eating disorder, PTSD, anxiety or the overwhelm of never-ending problems we carry on our back. Nevertheless, we are hurting and most people don’t even know about it.

What disturbs me is Kid Cudi’s need to apologize for being broken. In our society, especially in the black and millennial communities, we are taught to hide our fears and struggles behind the filters of Instagram posts and fake handshakes. We are taught, especially black men, that feelings equal weakness. We sacrifice self for success and ignore the need to create a strong internal foundation of confidence, purpose and ultimately peace. And it’s absolutely keeping us from our potential.

Earlier this year I helped a friend conduct a survey on mental illness in college and post-grad students,ranging from age 23-33. What we found was that 85% of the 60 participants had dealt with mental illness. While anxiety and depression ranked highest, the effort to seek professional help was not.


As you can see below, many decided to manage depression and anxiety with peer support (30%) and ignoring it altogether (26.7%).


What happened? How did so many millennials develop the burden of carrying worries that they can’t share and deal with? We get fed that herbal tea, happy hour socials and money will cure our hearts, but it won’t. Community, faith, honesty and finding the right help will.

So how can we begin to be brave about facing the issues that are stopping us from living in peace and being all that we can be as leaders?

We must create a culture that supports and allows people to embrace help.

We have to change our mindset in society and our culture that mental illness isn’t serious. In our study, the majority of participants turned to help not from a professional, but from peer support. If men and women are turning to family and friends to aid in mental illness and tough areas in their life, we must pay attention and educate ourselves on how to create vulnerable spaces to talk about issues.

We must look at therapy as an avenue to grow in faith and in our self-awareness.

We have to stop looking at counseling or therapy as a terrible place for people we see on Intervention. There is NOTHING wrong with seeking assistance in excellence. I am most excited to see Kid Cudi’s new journey because his openness to his pain will create a new path of discovery about himself. He will learn to create new experiences, face old ones and create a fresh platform to tell his story. Growth, change, love and revelation come out of the courage to seek help. There is nothing wrong with that.

There is nothing wrong with seeking assistance in excellence. Click To Tweet

We must release the need to be super human.

In reality, most of us suffer because we set an expectation for ourselves that doesn’t allow room for failure or mess-ups. It doesn’t allow those really bad days, those family fights, the unexpected bill or childhood traumatic incidences we never worked through. In dealing with depression or other issues we must release our expectation to get it right every single day. We won’t. So stop avoiding being human and embrace the amazing person you are now in this moment.

Kid Cudi is you, Kid Cudi is me. He is our secret bad habit of “[giving] so much of myself to others, I forgot that I need to show myself some love too.” Each one of us holds or has held the reality of unsatisfaction for where we are in our lives. Maybe for you rehab isn’t the answer, but removing yourself from a toxic relationship or taking a trip alone is. We have to start being uncomfortable in order to grow. This is the only way we can be effective leaders and pour into others with purpose.

We have to start being uncomfortable in order to grow. Click To Tweet

We were born to change the world and many times that is masked with our pride of pretending we are okay. You deserve to put yourself first. You deserve to tend to self-care and self-growth. Embrace it and love it.

#keepglowing because we need you.

Alaina Nicole

Need more ways to find self-love? Drop you email in the box below AND I GOT CHU.