In the span of two short weeks, death plagued my daily routine. In less than fourteen days, four of my five roommates lost somebody close to them—a friend, a neighbor, a family member. The emotion was overwhelming and I started drinking alone, isolating myself because it felt good. I skipped class and called out of work. My personal time was of the essence, but I usually preferred to sleep.
My impending depression made it easy to isolate myself and create auras of anxiety around particular people or things. I knew it was unhealthy to allow stress to grow legs and debilitate my body, but I allowed myself to sink deeper into my melancholy.
College is hard. Beyond all the studying, exams, punctuality, and classed social atmosphere, some of us still have to work three jobs to pay for a 500-square-foot, shared room at the bottom of a rat-infested shit hole house with five other students. Somewhere between the stresses of relationship drama and 10-page term papers, we need to stop and reassess.
I finally decided to put pants on. I was tired of letting life happen without being an active participant in it. I needed to make decisions with consequences. I wanted to talk to somebody.
I bought myself a red Moleskine journal and retreated to the side of the Humanities Building, where I could unify my thoughts with the cigarette-smoking collective. But in my haste to connect, I overcompensated and took on too much.
Working extreme overtime with three jobs while maintaining class four days a week and trying to salvage a decaying relationship, I was spending more time and energy than I could afford. I was embarrassed when friends would look at my frenzied manic compression and ask me if I was tired. I just wanted to feel linear and present, but my attempts to appease everyone left me with a self-manifested guilt about what others might think of me.
I drowned myself in self pity and degraded into a chain-smoking cynic. I reexamined my life so I could better understand myself and why I needed to do things. This new perspective helped me decipher the stress of college and logically remember the redeeming qualities. Sure, it’s expensive and time-consuming, but it’s also beneficial for my future, so I need to persevere.
I started meditating to help with my anxiety. I lit candles and sat cross-legged as I focused on individual facets of my life, giving each element the necessary attention. I also gave myself time to celebrate. I acknowledged that the parts of my life that I valued were clearly very special to me for a reason and deserved the extra appreciation. This helped me think positively and reaffirm my own choices.
I’ve always had difficulty feeling like my choices were important or right, but now I recognize the value of my own voice. It is dire that I trust in myself to make the right decisions and enjoy the new settings where I will eventually find myself.
I like to think of life as a selection of photographs. Some photos force you to face harsh realities, like those that document death or tragedy. Other images capture the beauty of life and progress all around us, like a patch of young seedlings developing into a lush and fertile flower garden. These images remind us of the realities of change that occur on a daily basis. Sometimes they are a lot to handle, but they cannot be ignored.
My internal transformation forced me to face a lot of realities about my life that were tearing me down, but it also helped me appreciate the things that keep me going. It may have required a hell of a lot of journals, cigarettes, bourbon and prayer, but every day it’s worth knowing myself that much more.