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Open up!

May 10, 2019

This semester was one of the most mentally challenging semesters I have faced yet, but I've grown more than I had ever before.

This is going to be more of a personal piece. In a way, it's a reflection, but it's also something that you could apply to your own lives at Oberlin (or anywhere in general). One of the things people say about college is how fast it flies by, and I co-sign that completely. As tough as this semester was for me, I can honestly say that it flew by. In my case, I had just got off a bad breakup over Winter Term, classes were as challenging as ever, and I just felt... lost for a while. I chose to keep my emotions internalized and continue to live day-by-day as if my hardships never existed. I would leave all the venting in the weight room and the football field for a while, but that wasn't enough. That internalized way of thinking limited me from healing and thriving from that adversity. Eventually, I started opening up more and focusing on mental health, because that's just as important as physical health.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to you is this: Talk to somebody. Anybody. 

If you are dealing with some type of mental hardship, it is okay to open up to your friends, family, or even a therapist. Oberlin has so many resources that can help with that. From the peer support center to the counseling center, there is a range of options to choose from. The peer support center gives you the opportunity to speak freely about any of the challenges you are facing. At the peer support center, there are students who are trained to help you deal with whatever stresses are bothering you at the time. Everything that you say in a session is completely confidential, and you can even remain anonymous throughout the entire process. The counseling center also provides a lot of support for students in need of mental health services. Oberlin offers students the opportunity to talk to therapists through the counseling center, which is definitely helpful for the student body as a whole. School is stressful, and life in general is even more stressful, so it's nice to know that this school provides enough resources to help students with managing all that stress.

Opening up to your professors during office hours can help as well!

I know that it's helped me in the past. I may preach this all the time, but office hours can be very therapeutic, especially if you already have an established relationship with your professor. If you don't have a relationship with your professor already, then office hours would be a good opportunity for you to create one. A lot of the professors can relate to the struggles that Oberlin students endure, so they are very reliable source of helpful information outside of class. 

Another source of mental support can come from your friends!

Ah, yes, the homies. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for them. They have helped me through so many dark moments this semester. I don't know where I would be without them. Following that sentiment, I encourage you all to join at least one student group or team on campus. It doesn't have to be anything competitive. Just join a collective that promotes teamwork and comradery at Oberlin. It's highly likely that you will make multiple friends and connections that you can build upon for the rest of your life. You may even be able to feel comfortable enough to vent with the group. I know that some of my most impactful self-realization moments this semester came out of group settings. This might not happen for everybody, but a group setting with positive vibes could be very beneficial for many students.

If that idea doesn't sound too appealing, then I encourage you to open up to the friends you may already have access to.

It is almost certain that you will make at least one friend during your time at Oberlin. It could be a roommate, teammate, classmate, anybody. The people here are extremely friendly, so it wouldn't be too difficult to befriend somebody at this school. There are too many opportunities for relationships to grow at this school. There are countless events that are both academic and non-acedemic for students to enjoy and meet people at. My advice? Take advantage of it! These four years will go by in a flash, and there are too many memories to make. I understand that people can be annoying sometimes, especially when coursework gets overwhelming, but social interaction can improve your day. Just give it a chance at least one time. 

If talking to friends at Oberlin doesn't help, feel free to give that old friend from high school a phone call. You may be able to share your new life challenges and experiences with that friend, which would be a great opportunity to vent. Also, you could share advice with one another. You may have befriended someone back home in the same environment as you were raised in, so that friend may have a better perspective with how you are feeling. This isn't always the case, but I know it has definitely helped me throughout the years. While you tell the friend about your Oberlin experiences, that friend may tell you about their own college or work experiences. The exchange has rarely been a negative one in my case, but that's also because I have great friends. That isn't really a testament to myself. It just shows what a strong support system can do for your mental health. Shout out to all of my friends who are reading this, by the way. 

Most importantly (in my opinion), check in on your family. 

This was something I was "sort-of" good at during my first couple of years at Oberlin. I improved on this a lot for my junior year, especially this past semester. My family cares for me more than anybody else on the planet. Of course, I'm going to turn to them whenever I'm going through a hard time! Never feel as though you are "bothering" your family whenever you're giving them a call. Chances are that they probably miss you and are wondering how you're doing. Nobody should ever have to feel burdened whenever they vent with loved ones. If anything, they should feel relieved about the interaction. I understand that everybody may not have a loving, supportive family, but I always say that your family consists of the people on this planet who love you the most, not just the individuals who are related to you by blood. This can include friends. This can include teammates and coaches. It can apply to anybody you meet at Oberlin. There's just one key to it all: Open up. I can assure you that opening up to somebody will bring you more positive consequences than negative ones.

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