Halfway through my summer, I was sitting on the couch at my family’s house, texting a friend. This friend, after telling her that things were still not going well (the past year had been rough), said to me “once I accepted that things were not always going to be in my favor in my early 20s, everything got a whole lot easier.”
When you accept that things will not always go your way, be that a job or something as little as getting somewhere on time, you get an entirely new kind of confidence. That confidence only comes from having faith in yourself and what is going on with your life. You just have to trust that things will turn out okay and become self-reliant.
Easier said than done, right?
During my junior year of college, I got halfway through my first semester, realized classes were not working out anymore, and discovered that I truly needed a break. It was terrifying to think about, because I was afraid I might never go back, but I knew that I couldn’t be in class anymore.
So I did just that. I left with an excuse to run off to become a first responder. I told my parents I wanted to go to an intensive EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) program, with the intention of coming back in the spring to finish the next semester.
Going to EMT school was a transformative experience in itself, mostly because I met a group of people who loved and accepted me for exactly who I was. This was a good thing, and a bad thing.
The good part? I found this group of people who cared about me beyond what I could have imagined for a group of strangers. We relied on one another. It was an intensive course, and you had to keep each other going. I’m still close with these people today.
The bad part is that I got four days into classes at my college once I returned for spring semester and realized that I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, likely because I had just been in such a wonderful environment that tailored to what I needed emotionally at the time and the contrast was extremely stark between that and my school.
College was seriously not working out for me. I didn’t enjoy being a student anymore.
I went to my counselor, whom I had been seeing for awhile as a treatment for depression, and he gave me some advice that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.
He said “If what you are doing is no longer working for you, and you plan to stick this semester out despite the fact that it’s making your depression worse, then you need to find a way to make it work for you.”
In short: If something in your life is trying to test your limits, if something is making you crazy, if something is just no longer working out, you need to find a way to make it work for you for the time being until you can do something greater about it.
You need to have faith in yourself. To gain faith in yourself, I believe you need to be on your own.
Being in your own head is terrifying sometimes because a lot of us overanalyze and internalize deep emotions that should probably be let out more often, but what I’ve come to realize through the past year is that allowing yourself to be with who you are is incredibly comforting.
The college I was in wasn’t working for me, but because of the choices I made, I decided to stay one last semester. To do so without plummeting back into the deep dark hole that is my own depression, I had to make it work for me. I got to know myself pretty well. I dropped the classes that I felt were not worth my time, and stayed in the ones that I knew I could emotionally handle.
Above all else, I spent a lot of time on my own. I would take walks off campus to explore, so that I could become comfortable being by myself, even though I didn’t realize the emotional strength I was building by doing so at the time.
I don’t feel the need to have people around me constantly anymore, and that is perfectly fine. I don’t feel bad if I’m sitting inside on a friday night eating Doritos and watching Netflix. Sitting inside isn’t a reflection of how many people I’m close to, but of whom I enjoy being. I love hanging out with my friends too, but if I hadn’t taken the time to be by myself I never would have become comfortable with being independent, which has given me the confidence that I can have faith in myself.
Sometimes the path to self-reliance is one that you have to find on your own.