(Originally posted September 23rd, 2013)
For a while now.
Michigan hasn’t changed since I left in May and came back in July, but I did. And that’s good, for how often we feel threatened and worried by change.
When I left for Mississippi, I was unlike myself in every way possible. The two months I spent back home was like a therapy I had never thought would revive me the way it did, and although I was sad to leave once I decided to come back to State, it just seemed that I had finally reached the time that I felt good again – like myself.
When we come to college, we leave everything behind. Family, friends, rituals, work, ideals, goals, likes, dislikes, they all seem to change. Which is good and it’s fine, but it becomes wild to think that you’re still barely an adult and you’ve changed so much. To some, the process is nothing. But, to me, it was everything.
I was so annoyed with myself for my second year of college because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t being myself. Why I was always upset or why I couldn’t get motivated or why I had no interest in anything anymore. I am an ambitious person, usually driven and full of desire for what I can achieve. I didn’t talk about it with anyone, and didn’t feel that it was abnormal.
Now, looking back, I want to talk about it. I want it to be known that this “sophomore slump” happens, even if it’s freshman through senior year. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
When I left Michigan, I never planned on coming back. Everything that I disliked I thought resonated within this campus and within this major, never considering that maybe my feeling could change if I had some support. And I did feel better when I left, instantaneously. But what I felt better about was having my family around me; my support system.
After taking my first month to relax and try and sort out what my next step would be because, as many of you know, I decided to move without giving it a second thought, I finally realized what I was missing.
I wasn’t supporting myself.
I disliked myself so much that I had driven me, my biggest supporter and advocate and friend and therapist, into a hole. And what’s bizarre is that this happens to college students ALL THE TIME.
I had never realized that depression affects close to 30% of college students so intensely that they find it “difficult to function”, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. I felt alone in everything I was experiencing, scared, and not willing to speak up about it.
Every morning was a struggle to leave not only my bed, but my room. I could wake up and go right back to sleep on the couch. My body ached, I hated going to class. If I ate, it was something hastily prepared. And when I ate, I ate so much. Homework made me want to cry, conversations drained me, and I’ve never worn sweatpants so often in my whole life.
This was my life, for an entire school year. And looking back, I can’t believe that was me. But that feeling affects you so intensely, you don’t really realize it’s happening, and that’s scary.
I couldn’t tell you why I felt like this. Maybe my family moving, maybe because it was winter for what seemed like forever, maybe because I tried to go vegetarian for a week (I’m just kidding). But, whatever caused it, really took its toll.
Now, entering my junior year of college, I’m feeling much more alive. Yes, it’s hard to have family living half a country away. I hate missing these years with my younger brothers. I miss my parents. I’m so fortunate to have family here up north, and these are the things I think of whenever college gets too weird and lonely. I have great roommates and a major I’ve been going after since I was a kid. And, yeah, sometimes I’ll feel those old things again. But, this time, I’m not afraid to say no, that that’s not me.
I’m not embarrassed of those feelings and I’m not embarrassed to share. I would like to express to anyone who does feel these things to remember your support system, be it your family or your friends, and share with them your feelings. Remember who you are and what you love, who you love, and what you loved so much you decided to come to college for it.
I couldn’t imagine not living in Mississippi for the summer. Being back where family is everything reminded me that, no matter how much may change or classes I don’t excel in or how stressed out I am, my family and my friends will always be there. And I, no matter how much I may try, will never treat myself like that again. There’s so much more going on in life and it should be really, truly, fully, lived.