by Danielle Clark
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
When I was a freshman in college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in life. I planned on remaining an English major with a 4.0 GPA. From there, I’d graduate and become an editor for a newspaper or a high school English teacher. I was also going to stay with my on-again-off-again boyfriend who was finally planning on committing himself to our relationship. He, too, thought he knew what he was going to do in life and made arrangements to join the military. Everything was mapped out perfectly—or so I thought.
Last semester, the first crucial change in my life occurred, permanently throwing my plans off track. After struggling with the decision for months, I chose to no longer remain an English major. I realized that I wanted to do more hands-on work. I was and still am a personal care assistant (PCA), which entails that I care for people with disabilities. I wanted to help people rather than edit, write, or correct papers all day. Part of me knew I’d never give up writing, because it was a vital part of my life for the past eight years. However, another part of me knew that doing more active work would cause me to write much less. I was sacrificing something I loved to do as a hobby in order to have a more self-fulfilling future.
Just before this semester started, my almost 3-year-long relationship with my boyfriend completely fell apart. Out of nowhere, he wanted to be with someone else, and I was abandoned, left in the dust to fend for myself. The worst part of the breakup was that when he left, I lost my best friend, my confidant, my partner. For the first time in a while, I felt alone and defeated. My heart was shattered, and I sat there helpless, looking at the pieces, wondering how on earth I was going to put it back together.
When I returned to school this fall semester, I hoped that I could immediately overcome my heartbreak. I was starting a new major. I was living in a suite with friends. I was single. Even though parts of my life were “starting over” I still felt the anchor of my past holding me down. I’d hear songs that I used to love, but now they just served as reminders of a broken relationship. When I’d visit home, I’d see people I met through my boyfriend, and my heart would sink. I felt worn out. Even my daily walk to classes wore me out. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I had to walk from the Adrian Tinsley Center (where my new major is housed) to Hunt in under 15 minutes. I was exhausted and fed up.
After the first few weeks being back, I realized that I couldn’t let this dark cloud of negativity and depression hang over me for much longer. I knew I couldn’t sit and sulk. Something needed to happen in order for my outlook on my life to change. I decided to fill my schedule with activities and get involved on campus. I continued working for the Honors Program. On weekends, I worked more hours as a PCA. I joined the Gamma Phi Beta sorority on campus, and I became an OL. I also decided to focus more of my energy on my major and my future. Now was time to face the negative changes in my life, rise from the ashes, and rebuild myself. I didn’t know if I would succeed at it, but I knew I had to try.
For those who now struggle with difficult changes in life, please know you are not alone. You will get through your hardships. When things look bleak and hopeless, know that for every low valley there is a high peak. You just have to start climbing towards the top. Though it may take time and you may struggle, you can do it. Don’t give up. Embrace your changes and weaknesses. They can become your strengths. Take every overwhelming challenge one step at a time. Keep pursuing your academics. Keep reaching for that career you want. Seek out a good support system. Do what is best for you.
After facing my changes, I now live by a quote that one of my favorite musicians, Oliver Sykes, says, “There’s glimpses of heaven in every day.” Letting go of things that once brought me happiness was difficult but necessary. I was and still am a firm believer in things happening for certain reasons. Though I struggled with change for a while, I was able to grow from it, make myself a better person because of it. You, too, can improve yourself from the good and bad changes in life. Embrace them as best as you can.