College is done.
One of the biggest, most influential, life changing chapters of my life is over and I honestly don’t know how to feel.
Right now, I am experiencing shock, sadness, relief, happiness, pride, fear and worry.
You are 18 when you enter college, and now at 21 (with what seems to be years and years of life experience behind me), I am nowhere near the child I was when I moved into Garver Hall.
High school was rough. I did well academically, I was a cheerleader, and I had friends but I was never happy nor remotely confident. My parents had just split up after 20 some years together, and understandably, my mom was distraught and alone. Our lives flipped upside down. I was miserable and my emotions were never adequately dealt with.
Divorce is no joke. Being poor to the point where you get your lights turned off and have to take a shower by candlelight is no joke. Having no relationship with your father is no joke. I was volatile. I was sad. I was unhealthy. Furthermore, I was not even sure that I was going to be able to go away to school until I got a generous scholarship from MU. It finally felt like things were going to fall into place for me.
Then, a week after graduating from high school, I discovered I had a tumor on my salivary gland and doctors did not know whether or not it was cancerous. Being 18 and hearing that is absolutely horrifying. I am thankful everyday that it was NOT cancerous, but I still had to get the side of my head cut open and it was traumatizing. Regardless, a month later I was packing up my car and going away to school, with a half numb face and massive scar as the only reminders of my health scare.
Worn down from life, living away from home was not a smooth transition; it was completely jarring. I felt as if my mom and I had become co-dependent and leaving her alone to take care of my two brothers left me feeling guilty. I tried to keep pushing through, focusing on making new friends and improving my health to distract from the emotions (and ultimately losing a lot of weight in the meantime) but I still was not happy.
During my January session of my freshman year, I was at my wit’s end and was ready to move home. My friends and family insisted that was the wrong decision. That it would be worth it, and I would regret it if I left. I listened, but I knew something had to change. I finally sought out the counseling I so desperately needed and realized I was suffering from depression and anxiety disorder.
Things finally started to turn around for the better.
I continued to lose weight, made more friends and decided to be an English and Comm. Studies double major. I started working for student activities, under a woman who has changed my life, I made some best friends, I became involved and I felt better.
College continued, Classes continued, but my demons remained.
I discovered, to my immense dissatisfaction that-
Losing weight does not equal happiness.
Moving away does not fix familial issues.
College does not reduce stress.
During my three and a half years here, I have had a handful of breakdowns. I have felt not good enough. I have felt useless. I have felt crippling loneliness. I have dealt with horrible humans. I have been let down. I have let my heart care too much. I have experienced heartbreak. I have unfortunately realized that you can’t fix anyone, and you can’t make someone love you.
But I grew, and grew stronger.
I realized that my friends were my family. I fell in love and loved hard. I felt appreciated and like my efforts were recognized. I became a part of an insane support system. I broadened my horizons. I started to become the woman that I wanted to be.
I became a college graduate.
I am not kidding when I say that Manchester changed my life completely.
Although I will continue to have my doubts and issues for the rest of eternity, I have come to realize that I am an important human deserving of love. I am a good human. I am enough.
College really gives back what you put into it, and throwing my broken, raw self into these past 3.5 years fully has left me with some major gains.
Words cannot ever adequately express the gratitude I feel for this school and the people who have been there for me while here, so all I will say is thank you.
Thank you for making me feel whole.
And now, as I close this chapter, I can honestly say I feel ready for whatever lies ahead.