What’s the next big thing I can describe to you in my second semester of my junior year? I really struggle at thinking about what to talk about when it has all gotten so complex in feelings of total achievement and total devastation while at college. It has really been a healthy spectrum between both endmembers.
What I can really reflect on is that lately, a friend has undergone great stress over a fairly short paper; maybe 3-4 pages, 1500 words minimum. But it really seemed to get to her. She just spent a semester abroad in Japan and coming back is a big adjustment for her. She attested that she didn’t think there would be such a huge gap develop between her Japan life and her U.S. life within the span of a semester; it did and now her readjustment is taking a toll on her academic stability. While completely engrossing, studying abroad is a complete flip in your lifestyle—that’s something brochures really stress to attract but there are negative consequences surrounding such an abrupt entrance; I think that is what happened with my close friend. But everyone is different with differing tastes and adjustment techniques.
During her meltdown over the span of the paper (that she requested an week extension on and was granted) her anxiety became this snowball of distress and paralysis when she thought about how the paper deadline crept closer. I was urging her to work on it every time we got together to hang out and study but conversations were kept lively and less “academic”. Life became an odd, unexpected fast ball with this paper as the pitcher and she was as at bat with a play bat. In the final hours of her defeat, she turned the paper in a day late after the extension; she wasn’t happy or satisfied with it. She was a husk of her former self afterwards. Sleep did not come easy with stress, anxiety wiped out her energy, and emotional numbness took her sense of worry. She was seriously considering how she could continue under such circumstances—this paper really challenged her in a time of re-adjustment which was also an obstacle.
I never considered the big question of whether I needed a break in college; I take blows as they come and adapt. (Improvise. Overcome.) But seeing how anxiety transformed my close friend into a ball of dark, slimy goo made me reflect on the true challenges of college on someone’s stressors and coping mechanisms. Mental health is the number one priority when facing new challenges. Along with belief in your integrity—not your general “self”. Integrity really becomes the last pillar holding when you feel like you can’t complete something, you remain honest with yourself, the assignment, and your professor.
Honesty is what will help you seek help when you really need it; most colleges have a health center with counseling available to students.
Till next time!