I Took A Semester Off Because Mental Health Is More Important Than College

I Took A Semester Off Because Mental Health Is More Important Than College

Even though I'm not taking classes this semester, I am truly happy with my life — and that's what matters.

If you told the 17-year-old version of me that I would take a semester off of college, I never would have believed you. I just simply wasn't the type. I was a straight A student in high school, took 5 AP classes (and passed all 5 AP exams), and graduated with honors.

Flash forward to two years later, I've completed four semesters of my Communication undergraduate at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. At Curry, I was a Communication Scholar in an LLC (Living Learning Community) and joined Curry Odyssey as a Contributing Editor. (Since then, I've been promoted to Editor-in-Chief.)

There were some things I loved about Curry.The class sizes were small, and almost every face became familiar within the first year. I formed meaningful connections with professors, classmates, and campus staff.

But I was bullied. Relentlessly. I didn't think bullying existed past high school, but boy, was I wrong. I was bullied worse in college than I ever was before.

I went to my most trusted professors about what I was going through in and outside of class, and in the dorms. I was referred to the dean, but got nowhere.

The way my roommate treated me was the worst of all. It got to the point where she left me a threatening note, and I was forced to move out of our room in the middle of the first semester. She does something threatening, and I have to move out? Yeah, it didn't make sense.

Residence Life insisted that they had no rooms for me to move into, even though I knew for a fact there were designated empty rooms in every residence hall for crisis situations like this. I fought them for four days — until I was finally given keys to an empty room in the same building, but on a different floor. My college best friend, also in my LLC, happily moved in with me so I wouldn't be alone.

Just when it felt like things were coming together, I was ceremoniously, socially rejected from my LLC, my supposed "family" on campus, because I simply didn't fit in.

I thought sophomore year would be easier, but things only got worse. I discovered that my concentration in the Communication major, which was Journalism, was eradicated, and the classes to fulfill that concentration had been removed from the college.

The worse part was, though, this happened BEFORE I entered Curry as a freshman. For two years, I was lied to by the administration, and the same professors I trusted, about a program I thought I was enrolled in, that turned out didn't even exist.

This happened at about the same time that I took my first journalism class, the only one still in existence at Curry, open to anyone to take for 3 credits in Communication. The class was taught by a full-time journalist at the Boston Herald - this was the real deal. And I'm aware it's these types of connections that makes Curry attractive to students focused on getting real-life experience from the post-graduate world.

While I adored my professor, the truths she told about working as a journalist, and the horror stories she shared, completely turned me off to journalism. I realized, more than halfway through my college career (thanks to those AP credits!) that what I thought I wanted to do with my life, wasn't what I wanted to do at all.

That was about the same time when the very best friend who supported me all of freshman year, and stood by me even when no one else did, dumped me as a friend. The same girl who moved in with me freshman year was now moving out less than a year later.

I entered a bit of a mid-college crisis. I considered changing my major, leaving Curry, starting over. My friend group diminished completely, and I spent entire weekends alone. When I was with other people, I felt so unwanted and lonely. It didn't help that in my two years at Curry, I went through my fair share of vicious breakups, but that could have happened anywhere.

I am almost positive that the torture I endured at Curry was largely specific to the place, because anyone I speak to from high school carries no such horror stories from their own colleges. I was often left wondering, "what's wrong with me?"

I spent months weighing the pros and cons of leaving Curry. But after being screwed over by Curry for my housing selection, course selection, and my financial aid, I had finally had enough.

After completing my sophomore year, I moved home, waited to receive my grades, then I officially withdrew from Curry. I got a full-time job that I love. I have a very loving boyfriend and am very happy with our serious relationship. My childhood best friend moved back home. And even though I'm not taking classes this semester, I am truly happy with my life — and that's what matters.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Infectious Compassion

Give a Stranger Some Free Hope!

I am definitely no newbie to this; doctors, hospitals, medications, therapies, insurance, paperwork, and the waiting. The dreaded waiting. Often the cure is worse than the disease, but the wait amplifies the symptoms of said disease. 

Like I said, I am no newbie, but I also am not an expertise. If I were an expertise I wouldn’t need the doctors, and all of that goes with being ill. But one might come to believe that after 26 years, one would at least develop a thicker skin. I try to imagine how a great spiritual leader might advise me when I fall through a crack in our system. I ask myself what lesson can be learned, for my future, and the avoidance of other cracks. I even try to learn from others who have fallen, and pass forward any pertinent knowledge I have accumulated. 

Knowledge is power, unless you’re sick. Money is power, unless you’re sick. Knowledge and money give the sick more options, but sick is still sick. Dying is still dying. Death is still death. 

With all of my knowledge, all of my wants, all of my needs, and all of my wishes, only one thing has been a constant in dealing, coping, and even healing. It is actually very basic, but often the most elusive. A placebo of sorts, amazingly it is still in short supply, but high demand. 

One cannot bottle it, market it, sell it, or cure the sick with it. But it is the most contagious agent I have ever been exposed to. A touch, a smile, a hopeful gesture or word, and I am instantly infected. Once I am infected my only desire is to infect all around me. 

So here is the big secret, the elusive placebo, the virus I covet more than any cure some specialist, drug rep, hospital, or guru peddles: Compassion. 

Devastating news is just that much easier to take in when compassion is bound to it. I accepted a long time back that I would either die from my diagnoses, or with them. No cure in sight, just a hindered life. Even though I don’t like my illnesses, I’m okay with this, I am okay with me, who I am, who I turned out to be. 

We humans don’t have to like disease, or even accept it, in us or others. But could we at least show a little compassion? For a few seconds? A fake smile? Something? 

The next time you are having a wonderful day, think back to a day that was the exact opposite. Now, the stranger next to you? That just might describe their day. Would you have liked a miniscule amount of compassion on the day you remember? Might a slight exposure of infectious happiness have helped you? 

Commit a random act of kindness and infect a stranger with some compassion! Pass it on! 

  

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With The New Year Already Gone, How Can We Improve Ourselves?

Its Never Too Late To Make A Commitment To Making Yourself Better

As January begins, people always talk about how their news years resolution never work out. Most of the time, they are right. But finding a good balanced resolution can be key. The resolution shouldn't be impossible but it also should be able to challenge you and prove to yourself that anything is possible. Here are 3 resolutions that I think all of us should begin a February as a way to make ourselves the best people.

1. Being kind to those around us

This one can be quite tough. Sometimes we just have those moments where nothing is seeming to go right and there is only a few people to blame. Overcome those emotions of anger or hatred and instead focus on improving yourself. If you got yourself into the situation, you are more that likely to get yourself out of it. This will not only improve your image to that person who you know, but also to others who may be trying to get to know you better.

2. Don't be Lazy

Not gonna lie, this is one of the hardest resolutions for people to follow. A long hard day at work or at school can often be the breaking point for people and might force them to stop doing what is necessary. For students, it might be putting in the extra work or in my case, going downstairs to get something. Being lazy is a problem for all of us and I think the best way to fix it is to start thinking of ways to keep this resolution.

3. Keep a Positive attitude

When times are good, a positive attitude is easy to keep. But as obstacles cloud our path, our negativity grows more and eventually can't be stopped. Being one of the biggest pessimist I know, keeping a happy attitude can change more than just in our own personal lives. A smile or a laugh is all it takes to brighten up someones day. Remember if you are going through a hard time, someone else also is. Showing them a sign of faith and belief in them can give them the final push to overcome their conflict.

These three resolutions are meant to help us make 2018 a year full of laughs, memories, and improve on 2017. Each of these commitments to improving ourselves will also affect others around us. Good luck keeping these resolutions.

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