This post is dedicated to my friends, and all the new people this year that have been a part in my journey.
By the first day of classes, I had already made over 20+ friends that I could say hello to on the sidewalk. And that, was because of my decision to move in early for the bridge program.
We shared our stories through narrative essays, we shared our nerves about starting college, and we all had a mental breakdown of some sort during those 2 weeks.
I want to stop right here, and reflect. When I started college I was not expecting to stay. I mean, stay here. I was not expecting to become connected to the school, and the people, so soon. [Many of you remember my goal to stay for one year (my mother's wish) and then go to school down south.] I also, was not prepared for the amount of goodbye's I had said by the middle of my freshman year.
Our school is not for everyone. Something I was not expecting to learn about my college decision- was that this school is meant for those who know what they want to do with their life. Like- who does? This school is for people that just "knew" they were going to be child life specialists and have known since they were little that teaching is their calling. It is driven for helping professions- teaching, child life, social work, juvenile justice, etc. This has not affected me. I am drawn to social work, and my school has one of the best programs.
I had to say a lot of goodbye's this year, because my friends were realizing where they fit as well. The small campus size- not for everyone. I thought it was not going to be for me, but it turns out it is helping me to shine, to stand out. Living on campus, or out-of-state is not for everyone either.
Within my first semester I had 2 friends (different scenarios) who withdrew from school, so they could receive mental health treatment. I praise their decisions to do so. It is a tricky decision when your health is rocky. Do I leave school, or do I stay and risk things getting worse? They are both doing amazing now.
My "dream" roommate, decided she was gong to commute her second semester to save money. I miss living with her. It was just easy. It was sad to see her half of the room empty. Things have worked out, though. She is forever my original "roomie" and I still get ultra excited when I see her in the campus center.
I feel blessed to be at a school where the students cheer each other on, and are respectful, and always willing to learn new ways of thinking.
I met some of my friends just by them approaching me as strangers, to compliment me after hearing my bridge essay read aloud. Now, I eat dinner with those people.
A moment that still stands out to me is when a girl in my class expressed her presentation anxiety. I, of course, could relate to. She had never given a presentation in her life because she always had accommodations. She gave her first presentation in our class, and everybody clapped and congratulated her and I just felt so much happiness for her, and to be a part of a community like that which gives everyone room for growth.
There are always the flaws, and the drama you hear about from being on a small campus. You meet people and question their people skills, and sometimes you have to ask yourself "how old are we here?" It is in class, where I forget about that. My courses touch upon big ideas, and current life events, and I am always thinking deeply. It is in class, where everyone is reminded why they chose this school in the first place. A school whose message is to "inspire a world of good" and asks us if we are "tough enough" to do so. There are always those little things that take you back, but you get back up by focusing on a study you are passionate about.
3 of my friends are not returning next year. This makes me sad because we are all so close, but I support their choices and we plan to stay in touch as our journeys take us in different directions.
My best friend this year, worked in our marketing office. She left a few weeks ago to return to her old job. My campus counselor, being this year's intern, was another "goodbye" that had to be said. And my first social work professor is retiring, and we were her last "intro" class.
Those are 3 more people I have connected to this year.
I guess I have not adjusted to this part of life. High school graduation is one thing, but every day we meet people and are unaware of how they may impact us. This isn't a sad thing. You take what you can from people. It's hard to go a day without those who made you feel good, but the point is you can go on without them.
I have learned this year that sensitivity is a part of me, and I am learning to see it as a strength rather than a weakness. College has allowed me to embrace more people in my life, and I am very attached to the feeling I get when they inspire, or motivate me.
Thank to all of my new friends that have stood by me this year. I look forward to seeing many of you again in the Fall.
and now, I am ready for a laid-back summer break
This is my best friend, Fallon. Today is her 18th birthday. This is by far the longest we have been apart, and yet we are only 2 hours away driving distance.
Life gets busy and the 2 of us have grown out of the "gift purchasing" thing. Until we reunite for our bear hugs and piggy back rides, this is my gift to her.
From our 8th grade graduation dance.
(yes I included throwbacks, forgive me)
To when I had heart surgery and couldn't join you in the swimming pool at your start of summer party. I was pretty bummed. You kept me cool by squirting me with a water gun. I was able to laugh hysterically when we broke your hammock. (The first time)
Our freshman year of high school together. We would go to your mom's work after school to start our homework and drink hot cocoa.
Sophomore year. Our Music Department trip to Quebec, Canada. The hot chocolate that tasted like nutella, waking up at 5 am in a panic and a few swears to my alarm playing "Let it Go" on full volume, and both of us peeing our snow pants while dog sledding when our dog ran into a tree.
(If this was in color you could clearly see your awesome minion costume)
Remember when your dad shaved his head bald so he could look like Gru?
Nana and Papa's house.
You being a part of our family, and called "Cousin Fallon" by little miss Maya.
Side note: Thank you a million times for driving me to visit Papa outside in the rain during our senior privileges and saying a few words with me, and holding my hand on the way back.
When I brought you to MV for the first time to meet my Vineyard family. We got a flat tire 1 hour from the ferry boat. My dad and Matt rode with the guy towing our car, and you and I followed in some stranger's truck. He said to you "You can sit in the front with me because you have the long legs." He asked us what we wanted on the radio and we were very uncomfortable until we parked again. The same trip, we visited an alpaca farm, jumped off a bridge, you won the brass ring on the Flying Horses.
Oh lordy- our backyard manhunt days. Again, with my family..
William's 1st birthday party, I believe. The photo to the right- you are twirling around the lawn in circles with my mom.
Being able to see you and your contagious smile in Grease, and Cinderella.
Our spring break trip to Newport. We listened to throwbacks like Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Aly and AJ, and screamed them as we sang along. We had a picnic on the beach, and I honestly only remember your guacamole because it was that good.
We flippin' did it!!!
How we did not get a picture together is beyond me so I found 2 doofy ones of us.
4th of July at the lake cottage !
And lastly- when you brought home a kitten without telling your parents. I got to snuggle the sweetie for a good hour until your parents made you bring her back.
Boy do I miss you. I hope 18 treats you well, and as crazy as you will be- don't ever stop with the Disney movies. (I'm laughing because that's crazy, why would you stop?) Keep singing, keep strumming your ukulele and guitar, and keep being you.
"Haley Tiff-Tiff "
Today's post is dedicated to my beautiful cousin who is also my sister, and best friend.
If one person could stand out from the rest with instantly building me up, it is Erica. Time spent with her includes laughing hysterically, sneaking baked goods from our Nanny's kitchen, and singing together while she plays the guitar.
We have many things in common. For one, we look alike, and we love raspberries and mashed potatoes. But the biggest thing we have in common..is that we both struggle with anxiety and depression.
When 2 people who are very close are both struggling with mental illness, it can be just as damaging as it is helpful. In general, it is helpful to have someone who understands, but it can be damaging to make that the focus. With us, nothing about our relationship is damaging. We talk a lot, support each other, and build each other up.
I remember one Summer on Martha's Vineyard, we were going for a walk and catching up on the unpleasant truth of the recent struggles in our lives. There were tears, there were rants, but at the end we decided we were going to do something from there. We made a mental health plan for that trip. We chose to go running into town and treat ourselves with nectarines instead of ice cream. We would frequently high-five each other and laugh about it. In all honesty, our exercise didn't last throughout the trip, but our optimism did.
We feel safer when we have each other.
Erica's anxiety is much different from mine. Our anxieties are different, but one isn't better or worse than the other. Anxiety in general is a pain in the ass. We both find our anxiety to be a major trigger in our depression.
Most of my anxiety is centered around social situations. Erica can sing in front of a full room of people, but her phobias are what get to her. Spiders, and the fear of throwing up (emetophobia) are examples of her triggers. When a person with an anxiety disorder has a severe phobia, it is as if the phobia is always traveling with them. The same way it is difficult to "turn off" anxious thoughts, it is difficult to distract your mind from a fear, even if it isn't within the present moment. Because of this, anxiety attacks are experienced. Your racing thoughts reach a breaking point and everything closes in on you.
The first time i had witnessed Erica have an anxiety attack was within a 10 hour car ride to Virginia. In the back seat she was crying and calling out for her dad, and was banging on the car window threatening to jump out of the car. At the time I didn't understand what she was feeling. I looked at the situation and tried not to laugh at the craziness that was occurring. Years later, when i started experiencing anxiety attacks myself, I looked back at the road trip and felt extreme guilt. I now understood what she had been feeling and it is not a feeling I wish on anyone.
At this point in our lives, she is a Junior and I am a Senior. She lives an hour away but i rarely see her. She makes my life worth living because our relationship is like a seesaw. We balance each other out, and we help each other to keep going. Though she is much taller than me, I am her older cousin and i know she looks up to me. In a situation where i doubt myself, or want to quit, i think of her. She helps me to keep going. I'm in this fight with her, and things may get rocky at times for us, but i have to keep on fighting with her. I can't get off this seesaw.
I love you Erica, and I thank you more than you know for the little things you do that make me so incredibly happy. Thank you for the therapeutic laughs. We have a lifetime of them to come, and a lifetime of anxiety's ass to kick.
Thank you for being a person who makes my life worth living for.
The most important thing i have learned while growing up is that you MUST surround yourself with people who ALWAYS make you feel good. Life is short, and there is no need to surround yourself with those who make you laugh some days, and cry the other days.
Don't get me wrong, no relationship is perfect. There will be bumps and bruises. However, in the long run you should be able to look back and see the good far from the bad.
When i say this, I am referring to middle school. Oh, middle school. It is the time where you think you know who you are, but most of us are very very wrong. So therefore, you choose people who are also very very wrong for you.
I remember sitting at a lunch table in 5th and 6th grade, where the girls would always whisper. The small table would be split in half, and everyone would have their own gossip. I hated that. On top of that I noticed certain friends would be nice to me some days, and treat me like i was a disease the other days. It was confusing to me. I spent most of the time just questioning what i did to make them hate me so much. I was looking for reasons that didn't exist. It wasn't about me. I still CHOSE to surround myself with those people. I thought they were my "fit", i thought it was normal to be treated that way. Those were my friends, so what was I to do?
This all changed in 7th grade. I started the year at a different table with another friend group. I was more than done with the drama. At this new table, everyone would communicate with each other! There was laughing, and not whispering, and i didn't feel a bit sad leaving the other group. I was doing myself a favor AND teaching myself a lesson.
I am sharing this snippet from my middle school horror story because it has inspired me to be where i am today. Something like "choose people who make you feel good" seems so simple. So obvious. It should be, but despite our ages we still tend to choose people who are not good for us, no matter how much we love them.
It is funny how 2 of the laughing lunch table girls are my 2 best friends today. Everyone said, "oh no, you'll see..everyone grows apart when you get to high school." I figured out who was worth it, and who was not at a young enough age where those friends are still true to me. At the end of my senior year now, it is bittersweet to me to see friendships that have lasted this long. To see that i can go a while without seeing them, but once we do it is as if nothing changed.
On a day when my depression was severe, i had a friend surprise me and climb in bed with me. She motivated me to get up and take a shower while she made me cat shaped pasta downstairs. I was showered, eating, and smiling. Thank you, Fallon.
Another day after an anxious day at school filled with anxiety attacks, i drove to another friend's house. She knew I had a rough day, and she led me straight to her bed. She tucked me in like a little mother, and ordered chinese food for us while we painted. Thank you, Xhesika.
It is the little things that matter. Especially when you are struggling, it is clear to see who makes the efforts to cheer you up, who sends you the "how are you doing?" texts, who pushes you to leave your comfort zone and leave the house after you make excuses why you can't. And the most amazing part to me..
Who is still there when you are not yourself. When the true "you" seems to have been sucked out of you and replaced with this lack of energy. When all you want to do is curl up in bed, or watch tv. As boring as i can be, my true friends stay because they know the real me is in there somewhere. So they climb in bed with me, and play my favorite songs because they can not wait to see her again.
I am incredibly blessed.
Thank you, to all my friends.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.