I never really knew what I wanted out of my college experience. When applying to colleges, I knew I wanted a good time and a good education. But beyond that, I couldn’t think very far ahead.
My freshman year was miserable, to put it succinctly. I was going to what was basically an art school in Boston, where I couldn’t afford anything and, even if I could, I was 18 and couldn’t get in anywhere that wasn’t skeevy. I was far from home, in an extremely unhealthy relationship and I did not fit the “art school” vibe, making it hard to make friends. Combine these ingredients together, and you get a perfect recipe for uncontrollable anxiety.
A few months into my college career, I decided pretty quickly I needed a change. I came back home to Connecticut and started my sophomore year at UConn. I was out of the aforementioned relationship and in a more familiar environment. Things were looking up, but I was still battling with my mental health, or lack thereof. Not in the “isolating myself and having multi-weekly breakdowns” type of way that I had my freshman year. More in the “drinking and partying to distract myself” kind of way. It’s true you can’t run from your problems. I might have been the hare, but my problems were certainly the tortoise and they caught up with me.
I’ve dealt with anxiety for my entire college career. It’s made looking into the future difficult. It feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel sometimes when all you can do is fixate on a problem, usually imaginary, and feel your heart racing and tears welling up in your eyes. It’s truly a helpless and hopeless feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
So, where does the Daily Campus factor into the bleak picture I’ve painted in the paragraphs above?
Anxiety and poor self-esteem can feed each other. I’d hate myself for being anxious, and then feel more anxious because I hated myself. I felt better if I kept my mouth shut and tried nothing new because, by my logic, I couldn’t mess something up if I never tried in the first place.
The Daily Campus was intimidating at first, but as a journalism major, I figured it was my best avenue to add an extracurricular to my resume. I inched my way into meetings, sometimes without an utterance besides “I’ll take that” in response to a proposed story but slowly became more comfortable with pitching my own ideas and interviewing people. Somewhere along the way, I ended up an editor and was in charge of an entire section.
Anxiety has been the voice in my head that always told me I couldn’t do something. I’ve thought it many times as a writer, and probably even more times as an editor. I still doubt myself and I still feel anxious. Yet, I’ve proven to myself I have ideas worth sharing and skills to be proud of.
I’ve done a lot of self-maintenance this past year. I reached a point where I couldn’t let myself be miserable anymore. I couldn’t succeed if I was continually having breakdowns and doubting myself. I still have a long way to go. But I don’t feel hopeless as often as I used to. I don’t feel myself faking smiles or isolating myself because “it’s easier that way.” (Hint: it’s not)
These changes haven’t been easy. It’s taken a lot of therapy, self-discipline, a good support system and all those other things I’ve heard are important for a person to thrive. But for the first time in years, I am excited for what the future brings. Everything doesn’t feel hopeless, as it has so many times before.
Thank you to everyone, Daily Campus and beyond, who’s believed in my ideas and supported me. I truly could not have done it without you.
Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.