Well, it happened today. I saw one of the many traits that fall under my assigned personality label of “The Commander” and it wasn’t pretty.
I had to work on a group project for one of my classes earlier this evening that involved 3 of my classmates and myself. Now, to give you some context here, we had already met and intended on finishing the project last week on Friday to have it done and over with. However, one member of our group did not show up and we couldn’t get a hold of her either. So the 3 of us devised a plan that, should she make an appearance or finally get back to us, would include her participation in the project. If not, then the professor would be informed and she would not be receiving credit for our work.
Over an hour into working on the project, we received contact from the fourth member that she had “slept in” (it was passed noon) and “completely forgot.” Needless to say, we were pissed.
So today, we had our second meeting and everyone showed up, so we were off to a good start!
Then it becomes clear that our fourth member who had previously played hooky, did not fully understand nor grasp my hints that I wanted to get the rest of the work done and over with so we could all go home. Instead, she was discussing a crush a guy had on another girl (we are in college, right?) and taking the personality quiz (yes, the same one I have discussed) as it was part of our project and then continuing on and on about the results while I sat desperately trying to finish everything.
The other 2 girls, who had been extremely productive at the first meeting, were being lead astray by this one rogue member. They weren’t intending to not be working, but they also weren’t Commander personalities that were able to keep focused and on task when a more dominant personality came into the mix and was doing the opposite (and yes, I do know this 100% because they, too, took the personality quiz).
Between the first meeting that this girl had missed and now her leading the whole group astray, I began to simmer a bit.
I reached my limit as I was in the middle of discussing a part of the project with one girl and the other interrupted to broadcast something about her personality quiz results. And I snapped.
I didn’t yell or throw things, it wasn’t like that. I simply said that I would really like to stay on task so we can get this done and everyone could go home while giving the girls a look of get your shit together! I thought I had been rather polite considering the dialogue that had been going on inside of my head for the past hour.
The look I received in return and the snappy, “Ok, we got it,” told me that I had been a little shorter than I had intended. But we continued on and wrapped everything up in record time – imagine that!
I realized, though, that I had been a bit rude and they were just trying to have fun and break the boring project up a bit. This in my head, I apologized when we were done for snapping and we all laughed it off but I am sure I left a sour taste in their mouth being that this is the first time we have all really talked, let alone worked together.
I see the error that I made and I attempted to rectify it and that is all that I can do. I can’t sit and beat myself up about it and, if I am honest with myself and with all of you, I’m not losing any sleep over probably not having these girls as my life-long, “Oh, we met back in college!” best friends. I was there to get a job done, not to socialize or tiptoe around trying to get it completed while discussing crushes and roommate drama.
I am aware that given the attitude I have, I can come across as a bitch. I have made it my conscious effort to not be that way or come across like that to other people because I don’t want anyone to feel bad or get upset from something I say. I am not a bad person, just bluntly honest with a “get ‘r done!” kinda mindset.
However, that being said, if there weren’t personalities such as mine, I feel like nothing would ever get done in the world and sometimes, unfortunately, you have to be the bitch that pushes everyone else to be the best that they can be and reach their full potential. Everyone, every personality has a job that helps make the world go ’round and, for better or worse, I just happen to be the one that has to step on a few toes to get my job done.
Something just happened that really stopped me in my tracks and put everything into perspective and I wanted to share my freshly realized victory with all of you!
I have been apart of the National English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, since I started at Slippery Rock University and it is the one club that really stuck with me. I have been to every meeting, been an active part in planning events and activities, and have even submitted and accepted to speak at the International Sigma Tau Delta Conference at the end of March of this year. I have to say, the whole thing has been quite a commitment.
However, it wasn’t until I received an email last night that made me realize just how much of a big deal my commitment to this awesome club actually is for me along my journey towards recovery.
I don’t know who else here has commitment issues when it comes to social activities, but I am well aware that I lack in the area of dedicating my time to something that isn’t necessarily required and that involves dealing with other people. And then I joined Sigma Tau Delta and I committed a reasonable amount of my time and energy into it last semester and was definitely ready to hit the ground running coming back for this semester. In a meeting yesterday, I was even considering running for an office for the Fall.
Then, out of the blue, I received an email last night addressed to me and one other girl from the club asking us if we would be willing to step up and accept positions in office as Treasurer and PR Representative. Apparently, there is so much going on this semester with the organization that 3 of the current officers were promoted to share duties with higher officers and left 2 spots open in need of filling for the remainder of the semester. My mouth dropped when I read the entire thing and realized, after a moment of reflection, what this really meant to me.
I had not only committed myself to something beyond my “have-to’s,” but I had been involved to the point that my superiors thought of me to ask to help on a higher level with the planning of events for this year. I was honored, but I was also very proud of myself. This is a huge testament as to my progress.
I doubt that the adviser who emailed me even realizes what it has meant to me to be asked but I will certainly show my gratitude and enthusiasm while holding the office, even if only temporarily. These are the little victories that we need to recognize and pat ourselves on the back for. So what if it may seem silly to someone else, because they don’t know where we have been and all that we have achieved since. You deserve to smile and feel proud for every hurdle jumped, knocked aside, or plowed through and never let anyone, especially that little inner voice of your own, tell you otherwise.
I feel as if I am doing the whole college thing – the good, the bad, and the ugly – from start A to Z except I am 6 years late. But am I late? Who is it that made up these rules about when we had to accomplish things, at what age all the milestones should be at? I am finally living in my own apartment, a junior in college, going to bars, meeting new people, new guys, cramming for tests, fighting a hangover in a morning class or two…and I am 24-years-old. Who cares?
I am “late” in receiving my B.S. because of my rocky start at Georgian Court University and then after that, waging a war against myself while trying to cope with my Bipolar Disorder (which hadn’t even been diagnosed at that point in time). I held numerous jobs, many of which ended in disaster as I had another meltdown that constantly put me back at square one. This was the cycle for the following 4 years or so of my life after dropping out of college after 2 semesters (only 12 credits actually completed) – feel good, get a job, work said job, start to crash, meltdown, leave job, suffer for weeks in my pit of despair and self-loathing.
I suppose you could say it was at least a decent reason for being “late.”
After I had been diagnosed and spent several months not working but trying desperately to regulate my moods and get back on my feet, both figuratively and literally (I had worn a dent in the couch and could tell you the outcome of almost every Dr. Phil out at the time), I began to think about my future. This time, though, I had a clear mind and I had begun to find myself. I realized at this point that I hadn’t ever been me. I had been this shell of a girl walking around, doing the motions of life, but not actually living (pardon the cliché but it’s true).
Things were coming into focus now and the first thing I realized is that I didn’t want to be a social worker or a clinical therapist as I had gone into GCU prepared to do. It takes a special kind of person to wear that hat and I knew I didn’t have it. I found my passion for writing again and I suddenly had more than just a passion to learn, I had developed a need for it, for new information from any discipline. And somewhere along the line, I found what I was meant to do, and now, here I am, living in my little apartment 6.5 hours away from everything and everyone that I have ever known , completing my B.S. in Technical Writing. I will be 25, almost 26 when I finally graduate. And that is OKAY!
We all have different paths to take, choices to make, and mistakes to be made. Don’t let your parents, your teachers, or society dictate which way you choose. Life is harder for different people at different times for different reasons and having a mood disorder or mental illness can definitely complicate things. Take your triumphs and never forget them. Accept your mistakes and move on. Be proud of the person that you are because chances are, you didn’t get to this point by waving a magic wand and making everything flowers and rainbows along your way and therefore, reaching this point is a success worth celebrating.
So, take a moment and pat yourself on the back because today, I CELEBRATE YOU and your wins and losses because you had to go through them all to get here and to be the person that you are and THAT is an accomplishment!
This week saw for me the start of my second semester at Slippery Rock University leaving me with only 2 more semesters before I will FINALLY have completed my bachelor’s degree. It is an indescribable feeling to see the end of the tunnel so close and to find myself steadily charging towards it. It is so hard to even think about the person I was just 4 years ago compared to the strong woman I am today, finally actually living my life.
However, even with all of these positives things happening and although I am feeling great both physically and emotionally, it has still only been 4 years and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not all that long. I need to remind myself that it is still a work in progress and it is OK to not always feel 100% and to still hold some of those memories of my darker times, even if it is just on a subconscious level.
Two weeks leading up to my first day of classes I began to have dreams that seemingly were recreating my past failures. I would find myself going to my new classes unprepared or without assignments that were due. Even more than that, and the dream that would hit home the most, was when I wouldn’t go to class at all and instead be sleeping in a dark dorm room.
Now, to many of you, these may sound like silly dreams and no big deal. What’s so upsetting about missing a class in your dreams? But for me, this was one of my worst nightmares.
When I attended Georgian Court University right out of high school, my days consisted of hiding away and sleeping in my dorm room. I would set alarms for classes, but would rarely find the energy or willpower to get up and make my way to the sessions. This went on for much of the fall semester until it finally all came to a head and I found myself in the mental health services office on campus talking to a woman who’s extreme youth and lost look as far as what to do to help me made me even more anxious. When she uncomfortably announced that the police were outside the door of her office to take me to the hospital and that I shouldn’t make a scene, I found myself at one of my lowest and scariest moment within my struggle with my mood disorder.
My dreams every night were reenacting the starting points that lead me to this exact moment.
With this context given, it is more than understandable that I am a bit shaken when I wake up in the morning. Ending up back in that place is my biggest fear.
Once I really thought about why I was having these dreams and so often, I realized that my biggest fear wasn’t just being back in that situation at school or back in a police car headed for a stint in a mental health facility. I am afraid that I have made so many powerful and consistent strides forward that I am due for a slip up. I can’t possibly keep going in this positive direction. Every time I have in the past, it has come to a screeching halt as I fall apart and lose my marbles once again.
And this fear has to stop.
Everyone who has personally struggled with something, whether it be a mood disorder, an addiction, a physical illness, or something else entirely, has felt like this at some point at least once, but usually many times, during recovery and sometimes throughout their entire lives. We have to give ourselves more credit than that! We deserve better.
This falls under the category of changing the tape in our heads, taking a negative thought and turning it positive or at the very least, neutralizing it. It’s not easy but it’s a skill and it can be learned with practice. I realized that these dreams are not going to stop until I start to consciously let go of the past. I need to start trusting myself and my progress and not fearing that in the next step or the one after that, it could all fall apart.
So let’s all make a pact, right here, right now – no more living in the past. No more stepping cautiously because we don’t trust ourselves to walk with confidence. No more not trusting ourselves and our progress. No more not living our lives to the absolute fullest.
There are few things more nerve-wracking or stressful than being a junior or senior in college. It took me a little longer than most to get here, but I finally am. I am a Professional Writing Major at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. I am 7 hours away from everything that I have ever known (friends, family, the house I grew up in, my 2 darling puppies) and am tackling the task of starting a new life along with finishing my degree. Add on top of that struggling with a mood disorder and keeping track of all my marbles has quickly become a full time job. And some days, it’s harder than others.
Recently (about 48 hours ago recently), I had my first real bout of homesickness. My days usually go pretty well, no real moments of doubt or intense sadness. And then nighttime rolls around and I am in my little studio apartment, sitting on my bed with my cat off being crazy somewhere and that’s when the thoughts startup and the marbles start to scatter a bit.
I am very lucky to have two extremely supportive parents that when I call a blubbering mess at midnight they pick up to talk. Either my mom or dad, depending on whose exhaustion level is less, field the phone call and talk me off the ledge. After this, I end my night with a headache and some snuggles from Luckie (my kitty) and pass out hard.
Morning comes and I feel fine. Refreshed even. And everything is right with the world. But it got me thinking. I struggle with keeping track of my marbles every day and thankfully I am able to do it now, but it’s not without the help and support of my parents and friends and other family, including my two sisters. I couldn’t imagine going through this alone, but so many do. Why? Why should anyone have to go through the tough times alone?
The truth is, no one is alone. If you are sitting in a crowded room by yourself, chances are the person right next to you, studying just at the other end of the table, is going through something, too. All it takes is one “Hello” and two more people in the world don’t have to be lonely. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences, have different likes and dislikes, varying home lives and personal situations, but we all have a common ground – we are all human. We all need a little companionship every now and then and guess what? That’s OK! That’s not a sign of weakness, but a show of strength and courage when you take the initiative to strike up a conversation with the girl who is always sitting alone or the boy that everyone thinks is a little strange.
Everyone has struggles and tough times and therefore we all have some form of common ground. If we keep this in mind before we think about all the differences between us, the whole world would be a lot less lonely with a lot fewer marbles rolling around.