"College is the best four years of your life" by Bailey Caskey
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
*Trigger Warning: Anxiety, Life Changes*
I heard this over and over again as I approached freshman move-in day. Sure, I was hopeful that this would be true, but I was too incredibly anxious about the next phase of my life to really believe all the people who insisted on that philosophy.
And honestly, two years in, it’s not the best time in my life. I am hopeful that the best is yet to come, but I am not hanging on tightly to the insistence and expectation that college is where I’ll find the best.
To be honest, college was not the best for me from day one. I was riddled with so much anxiety on move-in day that I literally have no memory of freshman year move-in day. And after that, first semester was rough. In no way, shape or form was I living my best life that first semester. I felt alone. I struggled. I cried. A LOT. I called home every day, multiple times a day. I went home often because I had convinced myself that was where I could do 'healing'; after a long week. I
made many trips to my doctors back home hoping to find a remedy for the anxiety that kept me from feeling like everyone else.
I turned people down. Any free time I had I wanted to spend it alone. I felt so alone, so isolated from everyone else who seemed to be so well adjusted to this major life change. I was a mess, so focused on making it to the weekend, making it to Thanksgiving break, and to Winter break. I only had my mind to sometime in the future, I forgot to be present. This was supposed to be the best four years of my life and I was struggling to adjust. I held myself to this ridiculous standard that I should have been enjoying myself. It was hard to not compare myself to others because I saw my peers around me getting acquainted and feeling comfortably seemingly from the moment their parents drove away, I felt left out. I felt like I was
the only one struggling.
That was far from the truth, but everyone I encountered was really good at disguising struggle. I was constantly looking for validation for my feelings. At one point, I turned to the internet to find it and I still couldn’t find satisfying validation. That's part of the reason I started my own mental health blog, I wanted to create a space for others to see my struggle and find comfort in their own struggles. I wanted to create a place for anyone to learn that it is okay to struggle.
Because the struggle is what makes it all worth it.
Because after I started my blog, I felt myself experience real growth. I started my blog shortly after my second semester started and it’s no coincidence that I felt myself start to grow around the same time. I learned so much from my own reflection on my blog. I felt myself connect with myself by connecting with others through the vulnerability of my blog. Each week, I sat down to reflect and I grew a routine around checking in with myself and slowly, I grew myself. I got to a
point where I literally forgot I had anxiety.
I got to a point where some days, I wouldn't even think about my anxiety. I was too busy being excited about my life and everything about it. I grew more comfortable with myself and with my environment. I stayed at school during the weekends and grew to love Sunday mornings where I would spend hours cuddled up looking out at my campus. I grew less dependent on this idea that my anxiety controlled my life because I no longer let it.
I was so happy at college and I finally felt like 'me'. Only 'me' was someone I never met before, not really because the me I knew was always anxious about something. The new 'me' was rarely anxious on the day to day basis and that was so liberating.
I grew as a result of regularly checking in with myself via my blog. This growth only improved my second year as I became more and more comfortable with myself. Suddenly, I was able to define college as an important time in my life, not because it was the best time, but because it was filled with growth unlike I’d ever known.
This growth is how I’ve handled my anxiety. Each day is an opportunity for growth and that alone is reassuring enough for me to handle the most anxious of my days. No, college is not and probably will not be the best years of my life, but it has been the years filled with the most growth which is something that means more to me than living up to the expectations of college.
Visit my blog to read my struggles because college with mental illness doesn’t have to feel so lonely. https://www.be-the-sunshine.com