Inspiration hit hard today ladies and gentlemen (and who else would I want to share it with?!)
I recently came into contact with an amazing individual through a mutual friend. He had a passion for photography and experience which triggered the creation of his project Monochromatic Stories **A project that wasn’t necessary for college, but simply for the message and interest.** The project included a black and white portrait and an excerpt about a story or experience the participant has had. The project centered around the idea of defying stereotypes and breaking stigmas. I decided to participate. My story was as follows:
Throughout senior year of high school everyone’s favorite piece of advice was “you’ll love college, best 4 years of your life,” but what happens when it doesn’t turn out that way?
I made the decision to attend St. John Fisher College in Rochester. It was 3 hours away from home, but I felt confident in my choice. The semester began and I had high hopes even after a devastating goodbye with my family and boyfriend. As time went on, I realized how unhappy I was. Academically everything was great, but my roommate situation was not great and everyone seemed to have their own clique. I stayed in my dorm room a good majority of the time and many weekends I sat in my room crying because I missed the people who truly cared and loved me. However, I was determined to make it through the year and was still hopeful for second semester.
Although things did get better during the second half of the year, I felt the best choice for me was to transfer closer to home. This decision brought a lot of emotion along with it. I felt like a failure; like there was more I could have done to make it work away from home. I was filled with doubt and questioned myself as a person. I watched as my friends posted on social media about how much they loved their schools and listened to them on break tell me about the interesting people and experiences they’ve had while being at college. Why did this not work out for me? I felt as though I had failed everyone who told me that I was going to have the best four years of my life, but more importantly, I felt like I failed myself.
I now commute to Siena College and live at home while working 24 hours a week. I continue to have a great relationship with my parents, siblings, and boyfriend. I have met some great people there and feel way more at home when I’m at school. But I don’t regret moving away for a year. I needed that experience of heartache and struggle to build myself and my relationships with those around me. I have a new respect and love for my family. I hadn’t realized how large a role they played in my life. I learned that I’m a goal driven individual and very independent, but I still want to be accepted. Most importantly, I learned that I don’t need to go out every weekend to enjoy my college experience and that is more than okay! I don’t have to be like everyone else as long as I’m happy and secure where I am.
It’s truly inspiring what some of the other participants had to say. Stories about racism or religious affiliation, mental illness or family members. I didn’t think mine was as profound as the others. However, the response I got was more than I anticipated or imagined. I received this message from someone I’ve had little to no contact with ever in my life:
(I covered the profile picture and name to withhold the identity of the person)
This is the greatest gift humans have. The ability to help and assist people, sometimes without necessarily realizing it. The act of communication and reaching out to people is something that is constantly taken for granted. After my story was posted, I figured I’d get feed back from my family saying the classic, “We love you” or “We’re so proud of you and the young woman you’ve become.” And of course, I got those too ~and no matter how many times you hear it, it still makes you feel special!~
But receiving that message made my participation in the project incredibly worthwhile. I did it with the hope that it might help someone else, but I honestly never thought I’d know if it truly did or not. The person who reached out to me stated that I made her feel less alone, but in reality, she did the same to me. Although I had become more secure and appreciative of my decision and actions, I had yet to find someone who had that experience. There was still a small part of me that felt like a failure. This young person going through a similar experienced decided to reach out to me and tell me they were thankful for my story. That is something I will hold dear to my heart for years to come. I appreciated her comments so much and I was overcome with warmth to have someone say I was able to help them through my words and real life experience. It’s also given me the courage to speak out more often, especially to people I may not know so well, in order to give someone that same feeling of encouragement and understanding.
I have hopes and dreams of becoming a child’s advocate through social work counseling. I want to become a safety net and outlet for children who are undergoing hard times. I want to be the voice they need because theirs is so commonly overlooked. I strongly believe that being a genuine person and helping where you can is the most rewarding experiences one can receive for themselves and the one’s on the receiving end.
As I explore my own writing abilities, I hope to continue this kind of helping, advice giving, and advocacy where I can. This blog is another way I can do that, for myself and for others. I’m beyond grateful for this experience. I feel it’s made me a better person and has only strengthened my desire for my future profession. SO, thank you to my new friend for your amazing creative abilities and drive to break the mold. Thank you to my friends and family who’ve supported me through everything within this past year. And thank you to this particular person for livening up my day, but more importantly, acknowledging your own feelings: it’s incredibly tough to do and you should not at all feel discouraged. We’re all finding our way through life!