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Life

What I Did to Step Into My Power During My Senior Year of College

Hello, my love!

As I’m writing this, I’m right around the corner from graduation. My four years of college are complete! I’m excited to throw my graduation cap high in the air and work on creating my dream life. I’m looking forward to my future adventures and starting my career with the Walt Disney Company.

Right now, I’m thriving! Even though I’m filled with life right now, there were long periods in college where I wasn’t thriving. I was barely surviving some days.

Four years ago, I set off to college filled with fantasies about what my experience would be like. Let me tell you, college didn’t go as planned. It’s taking me a lot of courage to share some of these stories with you. I’m here to share my experiences and advice with you with the hope that you find peace in my words.

Freshman Year’s Impact:

As a perfectionist who plans everything to a T, I picked out my major of public relations that I swore I would graduate with, decided on which organizations I would join, designed my whole dorm on Pinterest, and imagined what it would be like to find romance. I was ready to jump into the “best four years of my life.”

The first few months of my college experience looked like a high schooler’s dream. I loved my classes, never pulled an all-nighter, joined multiple clubs, and began my mentorship training to become a yoga instructor. I made tons of friends, adored my roommate, found myself a boyfriend, and even joined a sorority. My schedule was jam-packed with activities. It was rigorous at times, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

About halfway through my spring semester, something started feeling off, but I tried to brush the thought away. I swore I loved PR, but I felt like my time was being wasted and dreaded every PR club meeting.

Another feeling that something was wrong crept in. This time it was about my then-boyfriend. He refused to let me have any time to myself or with friends, guilted me when I didn’t comply with his wishes, and I felt pressured about “intimate” parts of our relationship. When I expressed to loved ones that I was feeling a little uncomfortable in my relationship, I was disregarded.

The uneasy feeling didn’t end there. When I joined the sorority, almost every non-Greek life friend/family member had only negative things to say about my newfound sisterhood. These people were also hyper-judgemental about everything I did. 

Soon enough, I started seeing through their judgemental lens of the world. I found it difficult to form deep, authentic friendships because all I could see were people’s annoying traits or judge their value based on their accomplishments.

Fast forwarding, by the beginning of summer, I decided to end things with my then-boyfriend. I realized afterward how toxic that relationship was. Forced consent is NOT consent, people! 

Thankfully, when the Universe closes one door, another opens. That freshman year relationship was educational, and I ended up finding the love of my life soon after. Once my romantic life was going well, I thought that the rest of my life would fall back into place since this one aspect did. I thought soon I’d get my soul’s spark back. That didn’t exactly happen…

Lessons Learned

  • You don’t have to jump into a relationship as soon as you get to college even if you felt lonely in high school.

  • Your friend groups will most likely change.

  • Don’t take advice from people who have no experience in what you’re seeking advice for.

  • Trust your intuition and welcome your feelings. Only you know what’s best for you.

  • The Universe always provides.

Sophomore Year’s Impact:

My quarter-life crisis hit. And that hit hard.

I decided PR simply wasn’t for me. My parents screamed at me about how I wasn’t trying hard enough in school, it was irresponsible of me to not know what major to switch to, and that they were disappointed in the choices I was making. They weren’t even impressed that I became a certified yoga instructor at 19 or that I made Dean’s List both semesters.

As a first-semester sophomore, this horrendous berating seemed highly unreasonable, but I used to internalize everything my parents said, so it crushed me. I was constantly sobbing for weeks and having regular panic attacks as I desperately tried to find a suitable major. I decided on exercise science.

I wasn’t aligned with this, but my parents insisted I pursue something medical-related. I was still trying to heal from the degrading lecture they gave me, and now there was added pressure to meet this new standard. My mental health started getting worse.

Soon enough, I found myself sitting in class with tears streaming down my face and hoping no one would notice. Many times I would excuse myself to the bathroom to cry. I stopped eating regularly. My sleep was poor. I had little to no energy. As my mental health plummeted, I started falling out of love with my sorority and received more backlash from the people around me. 

I tried getting a summer part-time job, but I was so overwhelmed with the summer anatomy and physiology class I was taking that I didn’t have the capacity to work. I hated not having extra cash. I was so depressed that I cried myself to sleep nightly. I wish that was an exaggeration.

Unfortunately, my life started spiraling even more out of control. Since I wasn’t aligned with my parents’ ideas for my future, my mother gave me yet another belittling lecture. She told me: “Your problems aren’t real,” “You go to a mediocre school and you’ve fallen into mediocrity,” and “It’s not my fault you’re not strong enough to get a handle on your anxiety.”

This one conversation was so unbelievably damaging, but sadly, this was one nasty conversation out of many more. It’s pretty safe to say my sophomore year was a disaster.

Lessons Learned

  • It’s not normal to lose excessive weight in short periods of time, not eat, not sleep, not have energy and have regular panic attacks. Please, get professional help.

  • Your parents don’t always know what’s best for you and they’re not always going to have your back.

  • You’re allowed to not know what to do with your life, especially at such a young age. Everything will fall into place over time. 

  • It’s more than okay to change your major.

Junior Year’s Impact:

When the fall semester rolled around, I decided to go to therapy. It was a breath of fresh air to be on campus and able to freely express myself.

I learned how to express my anxiety and depression with my love. I slowly got a little bit of my confidence back. I even decided to apply to the Disney College Program, which I have been dreaming about for years. 

While I was waiting to hear back from the program, I changed my major to communications studies and picked up an entrepreneurship minor. Sure, communications is similar to PR, but the curriculum was much more flexible. I was confident in my decision to change my major even though my parents weren’t. 

Before I knew it, I was accepted into the Disney College Program! I felt like my life was falling into place again.  

Since I was finally excited about something in my future, I started considering what it would be like to move to Florida and permanently work for the Walt Disney Company. Every time I mentioned this, my friends would make fun of me and express how horrible they thought the idea was. Thankfully, I decided to ignore their snarky remarks and packed my bags, holding onto the idea that I might be able to work for Disney forever. Mickey Mouse was calling me!

The college program was the most incredible experience in my life. While I was down there, I realized how many toxic situations I was dealing with back at home. I became so much more aware of what was holding me back and my mindset began to shift for the better. I was living my dream, making memories, and creating beautiful friendships.

And then, COVID happened. My plan to transfer colleges and stay in Florida was thrown out the window. On the bright side, quarantine gave me an abundance of time to reflect and create goals for the future, no matter how uncertain it looked.

I started therapy again. I learned quickly how many friendships weren’t worth keeping. The friends who made fun of my dreams to work for Disney were also hoping the love of my life and I would break up while I was on my program. I happily shed those judgemental people. 

Remember how I said I was becoming more judgemental myself back in freshman year? Cutting those “friends” out of my life allowed me to welcome a loving, accepting mindset, and I started forming authentic relationships again. 

Well, junior year didn’t go as planned. But, no one was expecting a global pandemic so everyone was struggling.

Lessons Learned

  • Therapy is a wonderful tool, please use it!

  • Chase after your dreams regardless of what anyone says.

  • Anything can happen for better or for worse.

  • Be careful what people you surround yourself with.  

Senior Year’s Impact

Like I said before, living at home was difficult. I was back to being surrounded by negative comments and invalidation. I noticed my mental health was going down again.

I tried to make the best of everything. I got a part-time job where I had fantastic co-workers, I joined Her Campus Montclair, and since I wasn’t dorming, I had the freedom to drive my car around to meet up with friends. I was also doing well with online learning and went after my dream of getting my 200-hour yoga certification, which led to me creating my own yoga service!

Although I was improving my life in some areas, I started feeling depressed again and my anxiety heightened. I was losing my motivation. I felt like every day I was barely keeping it together, but I was masking it so well that no one noticed. One day, I finally admitted to my boyfriend that I felt life wasn’t worth living. That was one of the scariest thoughts I’ve ever had to face.

The love of my life gave me so much support. I made a decision that I was afraid to do since there’s so much stigma around it, but I’m trying to be brave enough to share my experience in case it resonates with you. I decided to go on anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication and, friend, it’s changed my life for the better.

I finally have the energy to see all of my friends and go on adventures. It has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with my boyfriend. I look forward to waking up in the morning again. I feel like I’m my confident, bubbly self again and it’s wonderful. Read about how my life has changed here!

As I’ve gone through this year and began to feel physically and mentally much better, the Universe has given me another chance to work for Disney. The Disney College Program is back!

It was a long journey to get to this place, but I worked hard every day to show up for myself. I’ve learned to allow myself to enjoy my life and not define my worth based on my accomplishments. Senior year has reminded me that I’m an incredible person, and I can do anything I set my mind to.

Lessons Learned

  • It really does get better.

  • If you’re feeling doubts about living, seek help. It’s worth it, I promise. 

  • Be your own cheerleader.

  • Your dreams are out there and you can achieve them.

  • Trust in your path.

  • Everything you need is already inside yourself.

  • You can still love your parents but choose not to take in every word they say.

I’m looking forward to graduating, I’m proud of all my accomplishments, and I’m ready to fearlessly chase after my dreams.

Thank you, darling friend, for reading my work. I hope you’ve found some valuable insights in my article, and thank you for sharing this writing journey with me! I’m wishing you all the best.

For one last time …

Lots of love,

Camryn

 

Camryn is a senior at Montclair State University with a Communications Studies major and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is a passionate certified fitness instructor specializing in yoga, POUND, and barre. When she's not instructing classes or writing inspiring articles, you'll find her experimenting with her makeup, crafting, eating dessert, going on thrilling day trips, or obsessing over Disney.
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