Dear College Student, You're Not Alone, I've Been There, Too

Dear College Student, You're Not Alone, I've Been There, Too

Even when books are piled high and your world is spinning this semester, you are bigger than this.

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Hey Friend,

I've been there, too.

It seems like yesterday was a winter break, but now you're stuck in your study corner in the middle of a new semester. Deadlines are written all over the pages of your planner. Countless books are stacked all around you and on your desk. Study notes are scribbled on scraps of paper, eventually resembling an illegible formula more than something from a book. You've read the same words long enough that they all begin to look the same. The words start to get blurry and your eyes red.

Some of you may be halfway to your next break, but others may have farther to go. You may be running on a few hours of sleep and feeling like you're only half in touch with reality. When you close your eyes, you fall asleep thinking of the hundred things you need to do. You may be drinking more coffee and caffeine than you should, just so you can make it through. Stress, anxiety, and worry may be consuming your thoughts. You just want it to be over; the lists, papers, assignments, and deadlines. It's all a little too much. Midterms will be here before we know it, but I know you can do it.

You are a fighter, and this is no exception.

Even in the chaos, there can be calm in your heart.
Even in the hustle, there is hope for brighter days.
Even in the pain, there will be a peace that you can find.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a rainbow at the end of this season. There are golden days to experience; days when sun rays glimmer through the trees, bringing warmth to your body. There are days ahead of thrilling adventures, windows rolled down with a cool breeze whipping through your hair, and laughing with your friends until your sides hurt. You will be able to catch up on sleep, breathe a little easier, and finish strong.

This is simply another chapter in the book of the story you are living out.

Don't get so focused on a grade or two numbers and a dot that you forget about yourself and others around you. You are more than a degree or the results of a test.

Don't let the key to your worth be put in any other pocket or place other than your own.

Remind yourself to eat well and take care of yourself. Take breaks to refocus and enjoy life. Sleep when you can. Take deep breaths and tell yourself it's going to be okay. It really will be; maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will be soon.

Turn up your favorite tunes, open your laptop, and have a study session with your best friend. One day at a time, you will get closer to your destination and be able to soon say "I made it." Until then, don't wish it away, be afraid to ask for help, and just take one assignment at a time.

Few things will look the same a year or more from now.

Hold your people and the present close to you. Be kind to your roommate who is getting on your nerves, those who are struggling, and even those you don't know. Smile even when you feel there is nothing to smile about. Sometimes the smallest things make the most difference in a day. Be the change that makes a difference in the simplest tasks and seemingly insignificant, tough days.

Celebrate the fact that you are here in this present place for a reason far greater than you know. If you opened your eyes this morning and you felt your heart beating, you received a gift today.

You are NOT alone in this.

I'm cheering you on and pulling for you, friend. I see you doing your best and am proud of you for putting one foot in front of the other. I feel certain that no matter where you are in your journey right now, you will be just fine.

"There is something more waiting for you. You have much bigger work to do. So take my hand and don't look back. You were made to carry bigger things than the small stories you tell of yourself. Say it as we go: Bigger than this. Bigger than this." — Hannah Brencher

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I'm About To Burst, Laughing At The People Who Thought My Pregnancy Meant I Had To Drop Out Of College

I get stared at in the halls and asked if I am going to drop out. Here are ways being a pregnant student has changed my college experience.

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I have been pregnant the entire time that I have been in graduate school. It was not how I planned to experience grad school, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective and will give me a lovely son (seriously, any second now). There are certain things that I did not realize about being a pregnant student until I experienced it, and maybe my experiences can help better prepare other women, or give them something to relate to since pregnant students are such a rare breed.

As a grad student and a 25-year-old, I am around the average age to have my first child in America. I am not dependent on my parents and the world does not treat me like a child anymore.

However, since I decided to pursue my master's degree, I feel that people are not used to seeing pregnant and student in the same sentence without gasping.

When I first told my father, his first reaction was to ask me if I was to going to drop out.

This became a recurrent reaction from my family and friends (which my boyfriend who is also a student was never asked once). I did not expect the hesitant reactions and it made me feel shameful to be a pregnant student. As my expecting belly grew I always noticed that people on campus would stare at my stomach.

As I walked past, their eyes followed my belly like I had a giant red felt "A" on my chest.

None of my classmates are pregnant and thinking back, I can't remember ever seeing a pregnant woman in all of my five years of college. Since none of my classmates were pregnant, I felt like I had no one to relate to. There are a lot of things that pregnancy effects, besides the baby in the tummy part. I could not go out and get drinks with my classmates and bond with them the way that they were all doing. I could not relate to them fashionably because maternity clothes are heinous. I also feel like pregnancy put up a barrier because I would have a baby eventually and will always be busy, so why bother?

Pregnancy side effects would sometimes take a toll on my school work. In the first trimester, I could barely get out of bed because I was so tired. I could easily have slept 14 hours straight and being a working student did not help. I would seep through some of my classes and had to take the hit to my attendance points. I also have "pregnancy brain." Pregnancy brain is a real thing and is not well known enough. My mind can be so scattered that I forget my friend's names while I am speaking to them. I think it is October when it is March. Pregnancy brain has made me forget that I even go to school or that I work in twenty minutes. I missed due dates or completely misread instructions on assignments. For someone who needs A's on every assignment to function, it hurt because I would never make that mistake otherwise.

There are also benefits to being a pregnant student. I am never hungover and I have never been tempted to ditch a night class for a drinking holiday.

Pregnancy has allowed me to prioritize my school work and ignore the college lifestyle.

Before I knew I was pregnant, I went with my roommates to bars in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I feel so happy knowing getting wasted from $3 shots on a Wednesday is behind me. I now truly have nothing better to do at night than complete my homework.

Another benefit is that you sometimes get special treatment. The special treatment that pregnant women get is awesome. It is my favorite part and sometimes makes me wish I could be pregnant forever. People feel obligated to wait on me hand and foot. If I drop something, people rush to pick it up. It is completely not necessary but I get to feel like a princess for a day (or 280 days). Even though I was singled out for being the only pregnant woman, I was always treated especially nicely by students and professors.

Regardless of my friends and family expecting me to drop out, I am doing phenomenal in grad school. I have received A's in every class and have loved all of my classes. Being a pregnant student can be tough, but it is totally doable. If you find yourself to be a pregnant student, don't feel discouraged. It is not ruining your college experience but allowing you to do college differently.

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