When I lie in bed at night unable to fall asleep, I reach for my phone so that I can scroll through my favorite Facebook posts — namely, the anonymous submissions on the Tiger Confessions group. The proclamations of love give me joy, and the inside jokes make me laugh. The heartfelt confessions that I find there remind me that I’m not alone in whatever I’m going through.
But some students have concerns about the page: managing editor Sam Aftel, in his recent column, criticizes the page, writing that “many Princeton students who long for a more empathetic, demonstrably caring, other-centric, less cynical campus will remain confined to a single Facebook page to find any true level of intimacy and belonging.”
Scrolling through, one can see how the students who submit to Tiger Confessions — legitimately! — have a lot to say about Bicker and the fakeness of many campus social interactions (manifestations of the “self-centered, cynical campus” Aftel mentions). The Facebook group itself, however, provides many deeply caring and emotional posts that many of us — myself included — sometimes need to get by.
Being abroad right now in Moscow, I sometimes feel completely isolated. There are no Princeton students for miles around. My problems seem to be uniquely my own — and some of them definitely are; none of my friends on campus truly realize what it’s like to live as a young woman in Moscow alone.
But then again, some of my problems only seem like they’re unique to me. Although I may feel like my friends have forgotten about me, many on campus have felt the same way before; numerous others have certainly felt like they don’t fit in to a certain culture. While I sometimes feel as though I’m the only one having a hard time, posts on Tiger Confessions remind me that I am not: either someone has already posted something similar to what I would write, or the comments on my post remind me that others out there harbor the same feelings. In between the posts about Bicker, there are always many posts that really ring true.
It has helped me in some of my hardest times over the past few months. I was overloaded with my classes and my job, and I felt as if I couldn’t do anything right. Either professors or clients were disappointed in me. I was breaking out in zits again. None of my friends in the United States were texting me. I felt worthless and very much alone — 5,000 miles away from my closest confidantes, how I could I even begin to tell them how I felt?
I’m so far removed from campus life right now that any discussion of it — and anything that tells me that people on campus feel the same way I do — is precious. Yes, maybe I should have, at some points, visited the equivalent of Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) here or looked for some genuine warmth (which Aftel almost suggests in the beginning of his article) — but the fact is that those options are just not available for me. I’m very, very far away — and while I do have friends here, they aren’t as close to me as my friends at Princeton, and I don’t have access to a free resource like CPS.
Tiger Confessions has not replaced either of these things or saved me from nervous breakdowns — it hasn’t. Nonetheless, the group has given me necessary perspective, in that I wasn’t the only one going through whatever I was experiencing. Other people couldn’t bring themselves to look in the mirror in the morning because of their acne; some also felt like they couldn’t do anything right. Others still felt like their friends didn’t remember they existed. As a commenter on the page, I would genuinely write that they were not worthless, that acne is temporary, and that their friends most likely do care. So, in my own life, I was reminded that I could tell myself the same – even if I was very far away and even if not every post on Tiger Confessions lent itself to such affirmative interactions.
I once received a completely anonymous confession — not to be confused with the ones that I identified as having been written by my friends — calling me beautiful. There are hundreds of other such confessions, and they are almost certain to make the recipient smile — if they are tasteful and respectful, of course. When I’ve been going through a hard time abroad, Tiger Confessions lets me know that I am admired and not alone. And that picks me up and keeps me going when I need it most, as I remain far away in Moscow.
Leora Eisenberg is a junior from Eagan, M.N. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.