I have spent most of my short life basing my worth on my intelligence and how intelligent other people think I am. I know that this is the reason I can be considered as mentally unstable and I know that I shouldn’t, logically, do this, but I do.
Ever since I can remember, people have been raving about how smart I am and how fast I process material. I was labeled as the nerd, the thinker… Sure, I consider myself a slightly above average athlete and slightly above average in the looks department, but I barely made Varsity and I’ve never been known as the pretty girl. However, I received a National Merit nomination for my PSAT score and scored in the 95th percentile for my SAT score (first attempt). I was constantly reminded that academics were my strength so, I focused my self-worth on them.
Now, for the important, life-changing, part of my story: I got to orientation and started to question my decision to major in Applied Mathematics. Don’t get me wrong, I still love math to this day, but not enough to major in it. I wanted to do Biomedical Engineering or Chemistry, but my dad looked at the courses I would take and didn’t think I could pass them.
This was the first time I had ever doubted my academic abilities. After tears and arguments, I chose Psychology which still proved to have rigorous curriculum. In my first semester, I took Calculus, Biology, etc. and I failed miserably. All of my courses counted towards my degree (Cs get degrees), but I ended with a 2.34 GPA.
I was freaking out, my parents were freaking out, but my advisor wasn’t one bit concerned. This should have been my first red flag. I definitely wasn’t in high school anymore. My spring semester went much better because I went against the recommendation of my advisor and lowered my course load, but that’s where the improvement stops. I failed so many classes. Me, the child genius, the academic star, the girl who based her worth on how well she did in school, FAILED!
I had to suffer the disappointment, the embarrassment of retaking classes. The worst part was that I wasn’t failing because I couldn’t comprehend the material; I was failing because I was used to having to work hard in school. I was used to getting a 4.0 without exerting much effort at all and I couldn’t admit that school wasn’t a breeze anymore.
Honestly, no failing grade could convince me that I needed help. I refused to accept that I couldn’t do it, but eventually one of those Fs was a hard enough slap to the face that I woke up a realized that I was about to fail out of college. At that point, I decided that I would rather die than fail out of Tech.
I saw the school therapist who told me that there was a three month waiting list and that she thought it best for me to seek help externally. Now, we’ve already established that I struggled to ask for help so, there was no way I was admitting to my parents that I needed to see someone and I definitely couldn’t afford it on my own. So, I continued to silently suffer. I went about my days never planning to kill myself, but praying that I would get hit by a bus, be in a life-ending car wreck, or just die in my sleep.
Honestly, a lot of Tech students think these thoughts, but we’re too prideful, too competitive to admit it to each other. We put so much importance and self-worth into how smart we are and to be average amongst some of the smartest people in the world is damn impressive, but we don’t see it that way. We aren’t used to being average.
I’m angry that I allowed the opinions of others to consume and almost destroy me. I should have seen a therapist, but I was too weak. I should have dropped classes instead of failing them, but I was too weak. I needed help, but I was too weak to admit it.
I lost friends and boyfriends and almost ruined my relationship with my parents because I lied and told them noting was wrong. They all thought I had it together, that I was strong and could handle the obstacles. It took moving home, giving up the one thing I loved at Tech, being a Peer Leader (RA) and focusing on myself and my academics for me to get out of the dark place I was in.
I took fun classes that reminded me to love learning, I poured my heart and soul into a bartending job, I worked on my relationship with my parents and I spent time finding out what makes me happy. I don’t know what “cured” me or at what moment I stopped being depressed. All I know is that I graduated for one of the most prestigious universities in the nation and that I have a career that I love. I look forward to going to work every morning and I have my experiences at Georgia Tech to think for my current happiness.
Honestly, getting out of Tech is comparable to child birth; it hurts more than you could ever imagine, but the moment you finish, you forget about the pain (so much that I’m considering graduate school there). I cried buying my cap and gown, I cried turning in my last final, I cried the whole time I walked across the stage, and now, thinking about that moment I’m crying again.
Georgia Tech made me stronger than I ever thought I could be by knocking me flat on my ass and forcing me to admit that I could be weak. I cannot thank God enough for the obstacles I had to overcome because they are the reason I am the person I am today.
I am a person who bases her self-worth on more than just her academic abilities; a person who chooses to focus on her happiness rather than the perception of her, a person that believes that GPA is a number and that it’s important, but that it doesn’t define me and it doesn’t come close to representing what I learned at Georgia Tech. I am an alumna, an analyst, and most importantly, I am finally happy. Go Jackets!