Today is May 28th. Right now is a time of satisfying endings and sunny beginnings. Or, at least, it should be. My sophomore year classes are totally over, my on-campus job has wrapped up for the spring, and I’ve moved out of my dorm room. My summer job giving campus tours is starting soon, I have a fresh off-campus apartment, and the sun has marked campus with sharper shade and warm lawns for the summer. But still, I have a strong feeling that something is unfinished.
Maybe that sense of a loose end is because one professor of mine hasn’t turned in any grades yet. It might be because I’m still unpacking and organizing my apartment, finding new drawers and corners every day. But, I suspect that it’s more than that. I didn’t really have a typical sophomore year; I took a leave of absence from JHU in the fall. I stayed home for a full semester, and took a break from any kind of formal education. As much as I feel so deeply at home at Hopkins, the rigor has sometimes been difficult for me to handle. I don’t attribute this to Hopkins really; I was overly anxious about academics when I was a third grader in public school practicing for timed multiplication tables, and when I was a freshman at this elite university researching for crazy papers. During my first twelve years of education, I didn’t seek out any resources to help my anxieties. Naturally, during my thirteenth year of education, I also didn’t take advantage of any resources to confront this old burden of mine. But, the heightened stakes of college academics and the hectic transition to college culminated in a necessary semester off from any stressors.
I haven’t talked about this at all on my blog before. Before now, I didn’t feel as though there was an end to the story yet. While I was armed with new coping strategies and an established support system when I returned to Hopkins in January, I didn’t know if it would work. I was afraid that I’d still be consumed with and inhibited by anxiety. I couldn’t be sure any of it would help at all. But now, I feel very much on the “other side” of all this. I can spend ages quoting paragraphs from the counseling center’s website or citing every system JHU has to support students like me. Instead, I’ll just leave some screenshots of the incredibly meaningful support I’ve been given here over the last few months.
My sympathetic boss who understood that I couldn’t handle coming into work one day.
A professor from my freshman year, making an effort to check-in and show she still cares
A TA who was more “attuned” to my compulsive need to be praised than I ever could’ve realized.
My case manager in the Dean of Student Life’s Office going out of her way to check in with me all semester long.
The list can go on. My professor who speaks out about the counseling center before every midterm and final. My friends who have been everything for me, from exactly understanding to exactly goofy at all the right times. And on, and on.
This is all to say: Hopkins is the reason I’m feeling better than ever. I have found space where I can thrive here. Fact: Hopkins values and cares for my mental health. This semester has, beyond anything else, proven it.
I think the unfinished feeling comes from a part of me that wants this semester to keep going and going. It has been the best semester of my 14 years in school. I’ve learned better, produced writing with punch, and lived so well. This is what school is supposed to feel like. My brother just graduated from JHU last week. I couldn’t help but hope that, when it’s my turn in May 2018, I’ll be bursting with this same kind of learning— finished and full.