Graduate school was the first time I lived away from home. I was an American Studies major which means I was able to take classes within any of the Arts umbrella. My major was under the journalism department and there was 3 other students in the program besides myself. I choose to take English, History, and Journalism classes. Each department has a different way of writing and thinking about things. It’s tough enough to learn one, but three is very difficult.
Like many graduate students I had a case of imposter syndrome. No longer was I one of the smartest in my classes. I felt like I was at the bottom. Grad school is tough mentally for everyone. College is built for undergrads. Entertainment, clubs, parties etc. are all for undergrads save the Graduate Student Association. Graduate school is another world of hard work, publishing, studying, writing, reading at a much higher rate/level than undergraduate work.
Graduate school can be lonely. It was even lonelier for me than many others because of my unique major and taking classes in many different departments. I questioned why I was getting this major when I did not know what I wanted to do with it. There was a lot of work and mental hardship for a very unknown future that I was not necessarily inspired to work for.
My first semester I also started dating a girl who was dealing with PTSD from being raped. The only other people that knew about it was a counselor I eventually convinced her to go to and a friend. I was trying to support her, but I felt very alone and unsure how to best help her. We broke up after a few months and the unfamiliarity with being alone again was tough to deal with.
The next semester I was messing around with girls and doing things I know I shouldn’t. Things that didn’t feel right to who I knew I was. At the end of my first year of Grad school I resolved to turn things around and start living more healthily. The second year of graduate school I joined the Graduate Student Association to become more social and help others out.
I found a church and made some friends there. I started going to counseling again. Most importantly, I spent time every morning listening to Christian music, praying, reading the Bible, and meditating. I worked hard to become more positive mentally and grow closer to God spiritually. Growing up, from my parents and from getting bullied I developed a perfectionistic mindset that used anxiety to help me get things done.
At the end of my second semester I had pretty successfully gotten rid of that anxiety-induced method to get things done, but now I was at a loss. I hadn’t yet developed a positive reinforcer to really get things done and I was struggling in a class I was taking. I had also started talking to another girl. However, there was some red flags and I was not ready to commit to being in a relationship with her. She wasn’t taking it well and with my low self-confidence I was blaming myself.
These two things were very discouraging for me. I spent a long time working very hard to grow and become healthy, yet I felt like I was still so far away from where I needed to be and from having the skills I needed to survive well as an adult. This is part of my story where a friend sent me an article on trauma which propelled me to read more for a whole day and half the night. I then had a spiritual experience. I have written about this experience and continued journey starting here.
I hope this snapshot of my childhood and growing up helped you understand my story. I acknowledge that I focused heavily on the negative. There’s a lot of positives in my life growing up and perhaps I will write more about that another time.