Finding Your Happiness in College

Scrolling through countless ted talks, talking to therapist at CAPs, constantly trying to drown out everything that bothers you by eating ridiculous amounts of junk food, all of it couldn’t make you nor I happy. Even though I wish eating a giant tub of chunky monkey ice cream and watching the nightmare before Christmas could solve all my problems, I know it can’t. Now more than ever, roughly 1 in 5 college students have felt depression or anxiety, per David Rosenberg, professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Wayne State University. Every time I check that number, a slight feeling of “I’m not alone” sweeps over me, but at the same time I am left with the eerie thought, “Why are so many of us feeling this upset and angry, at our age?"

In high school we are told that college will be some of the greatest times of our lives. Yet, most of us don’t feel that way. We’re stressed, worked up, or centered on meaningless arguments that will not serve us later in life. We are barely 18, 19, 20, 21, and even 22 years old and we’re upset and angry at things that should not matter. Personally, a big step I made in the right direction was to go CAPs on campus and talk to a trained professional about my thoughts and feelings. They helped me realize some of the reasons I was feeling so low.  I was burnt out and restless from constantly doing things I did not want to do, surrounding myself with people who did not make me happy, and not putting myself first. Going to CAPs and getting advice from a good friend set everything in motion. I needed to change my routine and find some good in every day. I needed to be around people who let me be myself and make me feel like myself. I needed to take time to take care of myself a bit beyond the basics.

The first step was the easiest, changing my routine. When 2018 started, I would wake up “late." I would wake up between 8-9 even 10 on some days if I just could not muster the energy or motivation to move. This was different than how I grew up, more accustomed to 5 am wake ups. But even as a self-proclaimed “not morning person”, waking up that early would make my days feel entirely different. So, I started there, I woke up at 5 am, ate breakfast, did the dishes and I was out of my house on my way to school by 6:30. The first day was not easy, and I hated myself for it. Even being on campus by 7:30 and getting the best parking did not seem worth it. It wasn’t until when I decided to go exploring FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus that I found what I now know to be the best spot to enjoy the morning sun and make the morning worth it. A little edge of pebble beach surrounded by mangroves and the bay. I remember texting my aunt a picture, gloating that I got to enjoy that beautiful morning. Her response is what made the all the difference to my mindset.

“Enjoy honey!! Not too many things in life that are that beautiful, make us feel so good, and come for free.”

Next, I decided it was time for some me time. A treat yourself to whatever you want (or whatever you can afford) type of day. I ordered tons of sushi, got myself a tub of Ben and Jerry’s chunky monkey ice cream, and watched Netflix for an entire day. I turned all my chats to mute and put everything else on pause. The me time did not stop there. I decided I was going to take care of myself and relax, so I got a massage (which for FIU students, the healthy living program offers this service and much more for free or at a low discounted rate). This is what my counselor at CAPs calls “the chicken soup for the soul”.

Lastly, I dealt with one of the not so nice and fun parts. It was time I started to breakup with my friends, some of them anyway. I needed to be around people that made me feel great, and some of my friends and I were not making the cut. I tried to make this as painless  as I could for myself. I had to do a lot of self-evaluation to see who was serving some purpose in my life and who was just taking up space. Removing toxic or negative people is not always easy or clear cut, you can’t just go from being best friends to total strangers, but you can go from best friends to just friends. I had to remember that those people who serve a positive purpose in my life need more time from me, and I with them. So, I made the tough choices and chose to give my best friends more of me, the me they always brought out of me and helped nurture.

 

College can be the best years of your life, if you make it so. At FIU, CAPs or Counseling and Psychological services can be an amazing help and is offered to every student. If you have felt or are feeling low, stressed, overwhelmed or even just exhausted, it is okay and easy to talk to someone right on our campus. It was an amazing help for me.

 Life is full of exciting and wonderful opportunities that you must seek out for yourself by making some minor (or major) adjustments and a lot of self-evaluation. Remember: “if it costs you your happiness, then it is too expensive” -Unknown.