Why Taking a Semester Off Was the Best Decision I've Ever Made

If you know anything about me, you know that I am an obsessive planner and a long term thinker. It’s nearly impossible for me to live in the moment. I’m the type of person who’s always looking five years ahead, and the person who neglects what lies directly in front of me. When I was younger this was a non-issue, however as I got older and adulthood began to slap me in the face. I learned that it can be quite dangerous to focus solely on the long term.  Had you asked me a year ago if I ever anticipated taking time off from school, I would have laughed, and asked you if you were joking. Yet, here we are one year later, and it turns that taking a semester off may have been the best decision of my life.

In highschool I was a pretty stereotypical prep/nerd. I sat on the presidency of a multitude of organizations. I was taking AP classes, managing our boys soccer team, and working part time. I was doing it all, and pretty successfully at that.  Little did I know that my desire to do so much had partially become a coping mechanism. Fast forward to my first semester of college, when shit began to hit the fan. My school work load was actually pretty tolerable. Truthfully, that was the least of my worries. My desire to continuously do more increased while my emotional and mental state began to rapidly deteriorate. Things at home were going awry, my best friends had just moved away, and work was getting incrementally more stressful. Not to mention that I was going from highschool of 500 kids, to classrooms full of 500 students. No one knew me, and I couldn’t rely on people to tell me to slow down.

The facade of someone who had life put together began to crack. My closest friends began to notice me slip and retreat into myself. The week before finals I suffered a crude awakening. As I entered the library to study, I was met with the comforting face of one of my best friends. He could immediately tell that something was off. He embraced me and asked me what was wrong. That’s when the water works began. He eventually managed to calm me down, and I was able to relay to him all of my feelings, and everything that had been causing me stress. To which he had proposed that I took the spring semester off. I was slightly taken aback, because this is so far off from my plan and my nature. I knew though that I was in no state to make such decisions. I ultimately decided that I would give myself the duration of winter break to determine whether or not this was actually something I wanted to do. I mulled over the decision with those that are closest to me. I came to the decision that if I returned to school next semester I would ultimately do more damage than good.

As much as it pained me to send all of my friends off to school again while I sat at home stirring over my decisions. I knew it is what was best for me. I was no longer a functioning person. I knew that if I didn’t take this semester off by choice I would eventually have to take time off by force. I had reached capacity, and it was time to unload. I began seeing a regular therapist again and took up a second job and regular workouts to fill my time. In those months I relearned who I was, and how to take care of myself. I learned what it meant to be healthy again, and I had brought myself back from the brink. Although every ounce of my DNA told me what I was doing was wrong. I was quick to learn that life is never perfectly linear. Taking that time for myself to decompress before I imploded was the safest and best decision I’ve ever made.

While this was easily one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. To date I have never made a better choice. I learned to relinquish control for the first time and allowed myself the appropriate amount of time to heal and grow. I missed being a student every day that I was gone. I so deeply pined for the rigor of the collegiate lifestyle (as outlandish as that may seem). I’m happy to now report that I’m healthy and overjoyed to return to school.

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