Over the course of my junior year, I learned a tremendous amount about myself.
While in Scotland, I found a balance that I’ve spent the last twenty-one years searching for. I found friends that made me laugh until my stomach ached and man who loves every part of me, all while managing to perform well academically, without feeling as though I was sacrificing anything. I felt as though I had morphed into the absolute best version of myself.
However as my days at St. Andrews came to a close and I returned to William & Mary in January of 2015, the new and improved me that I had cultivated over countless pints of cider and containers of “cheesy chips” failed to thrive. I found myself feeling like an outsider in a place I once called home. Suddenly, I was spiraling out of control. My grades were slipping, I felt as though nothing I did was good enough, and I struggled to convince myself that it was worth it to get out bed each day. After a rather public, snot-filled breakdown in the library, I swallowed my pride and admitted to myself that I couldn’t cope with how I was feeling on my own. I needed help.
Throughout my time in therapy, some of my deepest sources of pain bubbled to the surface. I was forced to face my own flaws head on and work to relinquish their hold on me. For months, I grappled with my crippling fear of failure and tendency to disguise any shred of negative emotion with the flash of a smile or the crack of sarcastic joke until I finally realized that wanting to do my best should be synonymous with happiness, not perfection.
Although my GPA did not reflect the breadth of knowledge I acquired over the course of that academic year, I feel as though everything I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses is far more meaningful than anything I could have read in a textbook. It’s hard for me to even picture the nervous girl I was back two Septembers ago, plopped on the floor of a JFK terminal, anxiously awaiting the start of my journey across the pond and frankly, I’m okay with that. I firmly believe that I came out of this year a stronger and happier person who is far better equipped to tackle the world around me.