Find that “thing” within you that keeps you reaching higher

I have a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in communications. I went through a lot of hurdles to obtain my degree and it is one of my greatest accomplishments. My first stint at college was unsuccessful as a result of my social anxiety. I had the smarts but I found it extremely frightening to ATTEND class, and when I did attend I was not able to participate and could barely breathe. I managed to barely make it through the first year, then in the following year, things increasingly became unbearable. 

Two of my high school friends who went to the same college, left after freshman year and I was now, as I saw it, completely on my own and thus, overwhelmingly terrified and unequipped to handle social situations on my own. That is the hold that anxiety had over me.

Fast forward. Eventually after many years, I managed to earn my degree. How? I never gave up. I could have easily decided it was not for me and made all sorts of excuses but I did not.  I tried different schools hoping a change of environment would help but it didn’t, so eventually, I enrolled in an online university that had a traditional campus, as well. My avoidant behaviors followed me and was pervasive throughout my online studies, but the social pressures were not anywhere near my previous experiences. I struggled with anything that involved others, such as group assignments, getting exams proctored, and other course requirements that forced me to be social offline.

Eventually, my social anxiety and then my shyness decreased as I WORKED on it and once again, did not give up.

SIDE NOTE: Social anxiety is more intense than shyness. It’s like comparing depression to regular sadness. Although both are difficult to deal with, one is more crippling. Let me know how you see it.

I am now able to thrive in a traditional college setting.  How do I know? I went back to school to a traditional on campus setting to earn another degree – this time an associate’s in mental health. Not only am I there to prove to myself that I have come a long way, but I have a strong interest in psychology as a result of my experience and want to get the prerequisites needed should I decide to pursue psychology further.  It feels good to be back – literally and figuratively!  (update: I have since graduated from this program with a 4.0 GPA!)

In life, you have to find that “thing” within YOU that keeps you reaching higher, to pull you out of your current situation or get you to the next level.

This past semester (at the time of writing this in 2015), my ‘human services organization’ professor (who is absolutely amazing) gave the class an assignment that was life changing for me and reaffirmed my journey from beginning to now and into the future. I want to share a bit of that with you.

She asked us to read an excerpt from the book, Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed.  My professor told us that what we were about to read is heavy and she asked us to make sure we take care of ourselves, so you do the same.  The excerpt from the book was from an online advice column for The Rumpus that Cheryl Strayed wrote for under the pen name, Sugar.  This was advice column #44, HOW YOU GET UNSTUCK, and you can read it here:

Let me know what you thought of the reading.

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