College: The Time To Be Self-Centered

College: The Time To Be Self-Centered

What are we missing out on?
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Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up." The college experience is little more than four years of self-centered processing and focusing on yourself - your future, your opportunities, and your belief system.

College students are bombarded with questions surrounding their individualistic concerns. What's your major? What do you want to do with that? Are you going to graduate school? Do you have an internship? Do you have a job? What are you doing right after college? Where do you see yourself in five years? What is your dream job? All of these questions have one or two words in common: "you/your."

Over the past three years, a period where I am no different than the college student next to me, I have succeeded terrifically at being self-centered and failed miserably at being other-centered. I have built up my resume. I have over-scheduled my weeks. I have sought out leadership positions on campus. I have even, at times, ignored people when all they wanted to do was hang out. I have been too preoccupied, too busy "getting ahead in life" to notice those suffering around me.

While we're engaged in our self-centered pursuits, we may ignore or fail to recognize someone who has been sexually abused, struggled with anorexia, depression, or substance abuse, or in need of improving an area of their physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health.

Universities are degree factories, not other-centered factories. These institutions encourage doing well on quizzes, tests, exams, projects, and assignments to benefit yourself. They keep your mind locked in and focused on number one. We start to lose our ability to empathize in the process, however. We forget that what really matters down the stretch is not how many A's I got in college or how many students I did better than, but how many quality friends I made or how many people I was there for in their time of need. To be other-centered means to care for the brother or sister next to you. It means being the best son or daughter you can be, the best friend you can be, and the best person you can be, all the while devoting your time and energy to helping someone else's life.

People don't care about what grades I get because they won't remember it. They won't remember it because it doesn't make them feel better. Civil rights activist Maya Angelou said that "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

From here on out, I will do my best to cherish the dining hall workers and the work they put into creating an enjoying dining experience, be thankful for my teachers, check in on my friends and family, welcome the younger students to the University, and remember what is most important: relationships with others.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.unityleaders.org/from-uwm/board-connect-now/

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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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How A Podcast About Murder Helped My Mental Health

And a community that sprang forth became my lifeline.

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Sometimes I wonder what it's like to live without mental illness.

To wake up in the morning and feel secure in your body, your thoughts, your actions, and your relationships.

I don't have that luxury, and neither do 43.8 million Americans in any given year.

So why is it so easy to convince ourselves that we're alone?

I struggled with mental illness before my childhood trauma, which made me an easy target. The effects of my abuse magnified my genetic predisposition to mental health problems. Members from both sides of my family suffer from some type of mental illness. I would never want to offend any relatives of mine, so I won't disclose the number, but let's just say, it's a lot. As for my ancestors, I know a maternal great-grandfather hit my maternal grandfather, and the wife of the aforementioned great-grandfather was an agoraphobic. She mostly only drank tea and ate toast and was rail thin so it's not hard to reach the conclusion that she had an eating disorder.

I am very fortunate in that I grew up in a family who didn't hide from their mental health issues. My mom realized she had anxiety when she was in her very early 20's and was open about it - which for the 1980's was not common. She is the most genuine person I know, and part of that is because she doesn't pretend everything is always perfect.

So, even though my parents were always supportive through my struggles, pushing me to achieve my best while also assuring me that it was okay to take a mental health day from school from time to time, I still felt like I was the only one in the world that felt the way I did.

I won't bore you with the details, but most of my memories from my childhood have to do with anxiety, depression, food, and body issues. I remember telling my parents I had, "that lonely feeling again." Which, was the feeling of my heart in my stomach - the feeling of isolation and sadness and impending doom - something I still deal with today. One of my first words was "safe." I was convinced my parents would die in a car accident. I was five standing in a mirror calling myself fat, I was ten swearing an Oreo would be the last thing I would ever eat, I was eight hoarding food. I was seven, afraid I would crush the horse I was riding because of my weight. I was 12 the first time I made myself throw up.

Anxiety, depression and eating disorders have been woven into the fabric of my being. And working to untangle those threads is a daily struggle.

I'm a firm believer in therapy and medications if that is what's best for your journey. I don't believe in blanket diagnoses, or one size fits all meds. I was hospitalized three times in high school at an inpatient mental health facility, and for me, it didn't help. The final stay, after attempting suicide, journaling was my vehicle out of the darkest place I had been yet.

"I wrote my way out."

When I was 18, I found my way back to God. Recovering memories of being abused is brutal and with my history of mental illness, I don't know what I would have done if I had uncovered the abuse before June 14, 2017. I truly believe that God's timing is always perfect, and I had reached the point in my life where I was ready to receive my truth.

Two months after recovering the memories, I stumbled across a little Podcast called, My Favorite Murder. At that point, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark had been releasing episodes weekly for a little over a year and a half. I was hooked and binged the catalog of episodes.

Not only did it make me realize my love of true crime, but I found an amazing community of some of the most wonderful people I've never met.

What makes Karen and Georgia's Podcast so special isn't the crime. No, it's them. It's their authenticity, their rawness. Their openness about their struggles with addiction, anxiety, depression, body image issues, and their flaws. It's their championing of survivors of abuse and attacks, their support of women, and their dedication to End the Backlog (there are hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested, this organization helps fight that).

Although their opinions sometimes differ from mine, they've created this beautiful space of inclusiveness on the radical notion that as long as you're kind and respectful, you are welcome.

The main Facebook page has hundreds of thousands of followers and pretty early on, people started making spinoff groups, made up of Murderinos (MFM fans) for specific interests. Like apps, there's an MFM spinoff group for anything. From cat lovers to craft enthusiasts to local groups (heyyyy 'Here's the Thing, 518 Everybody') to religious groups (Looking at you 'Thou Shalt Not Murder!'). I joined the latter two groups and loved the little communities.

But then I thought, "Wow, I would really love to join a group for Survivors of abuse." To my surprise, there wasn't one.

I had reached a point in my healing journey that I needed to talk to people who knew what I was going through.

So, I shoved down my negative self-talk that told me no one would want to join a group I made and created a spinoff group.

And Survivorinos was born.

It's been four months since I clicked "create." In that time, we have almost 450 members and this past month I made three strong women moderators to help keep the community running.

For someone who writes a lot and often has (too much) to say, Survivorinos still has me at a loss for words. I started the group because I needed an outlet to vent things that I couldn't say to my friends or family. I needed to share intimate details of my life with people who understood. And what I found was a monumental revelation to me: so many other people needed the same thing.

This community is filled with nothing but love. In a world filled with negativity and fighting, this little corner of the Internet remains focused on helping their fellow man. The stories are heartbreaking, but the comments are uplifting. Love and prayers are sent, advice is given, and memes and animal pictures are abundant.

Now I can't imagine my life without Survivorinos.

Karen and Georgia say all the time how lucky they feel, that their Podcast has turned into this ever-expanding network of humans caring about one another. But it's us, the listeners, who should be thankful. I know I am. Because they took the leap and started this podcast, I found a group of people I didn't even know I needed.

Stay sexy, and keep destigmatizing mental illness and the effects of abuse.

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