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Offices and Services:
Tips for overcoming life’s hardships
Midterm season is at its peak—an exam tomorrow, papers due Friday, an online class starting today…
And then I get the phone call.
My 12-year-old dog needs to be put down. That’s my baby, my best friend. Some breed owners say that bichon frises can live up to 18 or even 22 years old. But this high-spirited, bubbly bichon just happens to have that rare form of bladder cancer. The academic weight falls off my shoulders as I strap on the bigger emotional baggage. And I convince myself to keep my head up, so the tears will stay balanced at the tip of my eye.
Hardships in college happen—they don’t wait for midterms to end. In fact, these troubles seem to come at the most inopportune times. Like the “I-just-purchased-five-Monster-Energy-drinks-to-pull-an-all-nighter-at-the-UGL” kind of inopportune times. And when you need the love and support of your family the most, the long distance—usually in the form of $60 roundtrip bus commutes—is just another hindrance.
So when you receive that phone call, finish a scathing argument, get struck with an illness or injury, or experience anything else that deeply troubles you, the self-questioning begins. How do I carry on throughout the day? How can I go back out on the quad, “smiling” and waving to my friends? How do I even pretend to listen to the rest of my lectures?
When time keeps ticking while your inner-clock has stopped, here’s a few comforting suggestions to keep in mind:
It’s okay to cry—no really
Let it out, all of it. Don’t try to “tough it out”—that’s called suppressing your emotions, and it’s not healthy. Through the midst of your busy professional and academic careers, designate a time specifically to cry. Think of it as flushing away those mental toxins.
Talk to your friends
Friends do what they do best: support each other. Alone time is certainly needed when going through rough times. But all those buzzing questions and suffocating fears will be silenced by your friends, if you choose to let them out. They may give advice, or just let their silent, attentive presence do all the comforting. Either way, none of your friends want you to think you’re alone during this time.
Take a trip home for the weekend
It’s simple. Humans weren’t designed to excel at their best during their emotionally worst. We need time to recharge. Go home to the place that you feel most familiar and confident, the place where you can personally develop and grow. Spend time with family and bond together during this difficult scenario. A change in setting can really impact your healing process.
Don’t forget about the counseling center
If you absolutely can’t afford a trip home, the counseling center is always one call away. You may feel uncomfortable expressing your most personal concerns and emotions to a stranger. But these experts constantly work with students—they’re ready with a list of resources, and they’re ready to just talk it out. You may use the counseling center once, or you may use it multiple times throughout the semester. Maybe you’ll never use it. Just know that the counseling center is always there for your benefit. Always.
Inform your teachers
If hardships are seriously affecting your academics, let your teachers know what’s going on. Even if the instructor doesn’t recognize you out the 200 faces during lecture, let him/her know that you’re dealing with a difficult situation and coping with it. It’s always good to establish relationships with teachers anyway.
Find another emotional outlet
Listen to music, draw, play an instrument, watch funny cat videos on YouTube. Do something that you like to do to keep your mind off the subject, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Mourning will become less draining if you keep yourself preoccupied with your favorite hobbies.
I’m going to try to remember these points as I spend one last weekend with my dog.
I love you, Skipper. I’ll never forget you.