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Mental Health

An Anxious Homebody’s Reflection on Fall Quarter

I have been dealing with anxiety since I was about sixteen. One major reason for coming to Cal Poly was that I thought going away to college would help me break out of my shell and face my anxiety; that’s not exactly how it’s going so far. 

While I will say that there have been some extraneous factors adding to my mental health struggles, going away to college was still not the remedy that I imagined it would be. Starting from move-in day, I have had even more things to worry about, like whether I made the right decision coming here, whether or not my roommate locked the door, and how many dining dollars I can afford to spend on a given day. My existing anxiety symptoms, such as major germophobia, have remained the same or been amplified. 

One of the hardest parts for me about being an anxious homebody at a college hours away from my home is the separation from family. Before moving, my parents were who I spent the most time with, so moving to college has left me with a lonely feeling as well as the intimidation of having to take on independence. Gaining independence is a good thing in many ways, and I am excited about getting to do that, but I may not have been prepared to completely take care of myself on a daily basis. I have dealt a lot with the weirdness of feeling like I picked myself up out of my life and got dropped off in San Luis Obispo, forcing me to completely recreate myself and my daily routine. There are a lot of fundamentals that I left behind: my family, my pets, my bedroom which has been my safe place from my anxiety for two years, all of my favorite foods, and more. Having to learn to live–to get by–without those things has been more difficult than I could have imagined. I imagined that I would have been homesick but being homesick in real time is 10 times worse than being homesick in theory, and I was not prepared for how it would actually feel. 

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for is what going to a party school is actually like. Since my first week here, when people went to parties night after night, I have had to learn that I call myself a homebody for a reason–because I really like to stay home. I have enjoyed more nights laying in my twin XL bed watching movies and TV than I have enjoyed at frat parties. And don’t get me wrong, I think it is great to enjoy going out every weekend and to be immersed in the partying atmosphere that we have at this school. But I also think it is great to know about yourself (like I do) that you don’t enjoy going out every weekend, or would much rather spend quality time with a small group than  shuffling around a crowded room trying to find room to dance to bad music.

Although the anxiety and the missing home has been extremely difficult, there have been a ton of positive experiences during my first quarter at Cal Poly. I have made some amazing friends who have been a silver lining through all of my anxiety, homesickness, and doubts. Not to mention, San Luis Obispo is a beautiful place that is close to my heart because of the time I spent here while growing up. So while the struggle of being a homebody away from home is very real, I am still beyond grateful for the experiences I gained during this quarter. I also know that with my headphones close by, a good therapeutic playlist going, and my new best friends by my side, I can find a way to get through the struggles I have encountered as a first-year Mustang. It can be easy to feel like everyone around you is doing so much better than you, because people don’t often wear their struggles on their sleeve when they can help it. Just know that whatever you are struggling with, you can find support, whether that be through good friends, good music, or the different types of free counseling we have available as Cal Poly students. Don’t be afraid to reach out, and don’t forget that us anxious homebodies are not alone. 

Emily Middleton

Cal Poly '26

I was born and raised in California and I am an English major at Cal Poly hoping to become a high school English teacher. I am excited to be able to further my passion for writing through Her Campus.