Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog about the bad days.
To recap, Junior fall was the roughest semester I’ve had to date. I was an exhausted, anxious, heartbroken mess of an undergrad for what seemed like an eternity, even though things were on the up and up by the time February rolled in. I leaned on my friends and family, clung to the promise of a trip to paradise, and buried myself in all of the things that make me happy. In the end, that one post (and a semester’s worth of angsty sonnets that I would never inflict on the internet) is the only evidence of any deviation from my idyllic college experience. But I can assure you, it was a fight to the finish.
I posted that blog on the closing day of a show I did last October, when I was wading through the thick of the bad days. Tonight, I open a brand new show in the same venue, a hilarious five-person musical comedy. I get to spend the next four weekends as a larger-than-life Texas sweetheart who wears her wedding dress (complete with a lily-white cowboy hat) out ~to the club~. It’s a hilarious, wonderful time.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for the cyclical, but I can’t revel in this new beginning without being smacked in the face by how much has changed in the past year.
Because, in a miraculous less-than 365 days, I’m so dang happy.
There are a million reasons and non-reasons why this is so. You could chalk it up to the incredible shows, classes, and opportunities (#dreaminternship) that filled those days, because they certainly helped. Stare me dead in the eye and ask who could be unhappy after a Caribbean cruise with your three best friends; I don’t have an answer for you. Heck, blame it all on the dreamy new boyfriend. He’s pretty good at the whole making me happy thing.
I’m the first one to say I’m a fortunate girl. But the fact of the matter is that the past year wasn’t earth-shatteringly transformative. It just was. It was bad, then better, then good, then great, with plenty of peaks and valleys in between. I didn’t snag a role on Broadway. I neither met nor married Darren Criss. I certainly didn’t win the lottery. From the outside looking in, it was a typical year in the life of a Hopkins student.
And that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Things got better for no other reason than that’s what they do. With some hard work and invaluable time, the bad days slowly and steadily faded away. That’s not to say they disappeared completely—do they ever?—but I’ve been breathing free and easy for months now. No more sinking, no more drowning. Just simple chugging along.
College has been unbelievably good to me. But a pressurized, high-achieving environment is bound to yield some bad days, maybe some bad months. More than 25% of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year, and I count myself among them. When I blew my comfort zone to smithereens and wrote that post last year, I was deep in the hole, but I was so hopeful. I wanted to share that hope and make it something to which I was accountable. And now, a year later, I’m back to tell anyone who needs to hear it that hope for better days is never unfounded. Us undergrads are a striving, scrappy breed. We’re tougher than we look.
Tonight, with this post and in the name of new beginnings, I officially close that crap-tastic chapter of my life. And I’ll end it in the style of Queen J.K. Rowling: All was well.