Starting college? Freshly heartbroken? Depressed? If you answered yes to any of these questions, know you are not alone. Having to adjust to a whole new lifestyle while other parts of your life drastically change all at once is... terrifying, difficult, and it feels impossible. It's hard to view "this next chapter" as exciting and fun when all you feel is sad, anxious, and weak. I'm a month in to this new lifestyle dealing with a heartbreak I didn't expect, battling depression, and living in the era overthrown by the coronavirus. The only way I have survived is by taking it one day at a time.
Despite the seeming endless months of quarantine and limited interaction, college wasn't something I was looking forward to. Not in fear of the newness or even contracting the virus, but in fear of change. I feared getting to know a new area after living in the same town my whole life, I feared not meeting people and feeling alone, but most of all, I feared the change that was going to happen to my relationships. I didn't want things to change; I was finally content and happy with everything in my life, including my friends in my town and with my boyfriend. I didn't want my life to change, but just as death is inevitable, so is change.
Two weeks before I left, my ex-boyfriend and I broke up because of our shared fear. We spent these two weeks still in a period of working things out, in hope and in shared-desire to get back together. As I spent these two weeks holding on to each moment left and to the idea of us being together again, he was letting them go. Four days before I left, he said he didn't want to try anymore. After a year of being in love, he was ready to let go, just like that. My fears became reality as I felt my whole world shift into unknown territory: heartbreak.
With my already present depression, my emotions escalated and escaped their home in my head. They traveled through my whole body like poison, infecting me with a deafening sadness. I became weak as a result to a loss of appetite, which sent me home a week after I arrived to UGA because I got horribly sick with strep. I could barely walk to my bathroom down the hall because my body couldn't support my weight. I presented this version of myself that was not me as my emotions overthrew every interaction, resulting in me having to drop out of sorority recruitment. I sat at home in my bed alone, forced to face the one thing I didn't want to: reality.
As my mom and I went on our daily walk around our neighborhood in her efforts to build my strength, she spoke a hard truth: "You are the only person that can take care of yourself. You have to tell yourself "you can do this, and I want to do this." If you don't, you won't heal. Take it one step at a time until you can take it one day at a time." She was right, I had to accept it was time to let go in order to heal myself. The internal battle of acceptance was messy but triumphant as I returned back to campus.
I carry her words through the next few weeks, taking each step one by one. There are moments that feel unlivable and times where feeling happy seems impossible, but there also moments that make the days bearable. Eating out and talking on the phone with my friends from high school, having an unexpectedly good night in my hometown, and staying up with my roommate watching Netflix makes me feel like everything will be okay. Does distractions from this pain make it go away? Absolutely not, but filling my time with the people who care for me and are present in this chapter of my life makes the process easier.
Each day passes by and it hasn't necessarily gotten easier. I'm still adjusting to living as a college freshman in a new town surrounded by unfamiliarity, and I'm still in the process of feeling hurt. This is what's important to remember: It is a process. Change isn't easy, heartbreak isn't easy, and life isn't easy. Maybe it isn't supposed to be. Every experience we have helps create who we are and leads us to what's next, so that's what I'm going to keep doing. As I end each day the same by brushing my teeth, I come to the realization that I made it through another day. I might not be healed and completely adjusted yet, but I'm on my way there, taking it one day at a time.