To almost anyone you ask, they will say that transition, no matter the circumstance, is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. Most of us are faced with this tricky concept during our teenage years as part of the long, tedious journey into adulthood. Transition can come in many forms, whether that be transition to just a grade older, a new school, or a new lifestyle completely. Yes, there will always be a few individuals who can handle this change with flying colors and to them I give a pat on the back. But if you’re anything like me, transition can be a real struggle, not only physically but also mentally.
Growing up, I always had a more difficult time transitioning to new situations, both in and out of the classroom. As part of the switch from middle school to high school, I found myself struggling a quite a bit with the different style of teaching in the new school in addition to changes in my friends group. For a while, I fell behind in my classes and felt like there was no true place or group to which I belonged. There were days where I felt especially lonely, and spent a lot of time by myself because I felt like a bother to the few friends I had at the time. Eventually, these feelings seemed to pass as I got my footing and found my temporary niche as part of the journalism team, writing and editing content for them as part of my last two years of high school. Looking back, this position was the most impactful choice to come out of my high school career. It was as if I had found a place where I felt like I mattered and people truly wanted to listen to what I had to say. A few years passed, and graduation day arrived. I was more than ready to escape the same beige halls I had walked for the past four years and get onto bigger and better things. It was tough to leave my journalism “family” behind, since we had all become so close and it was something that had helped me through my first major transition. But I knew this wouldn’t be the last time the publishing world had heard from me.
The coming Fall I began what would be my four-year journey at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Yet another transition, for a girl who didn’t reciprocate well to them. Although this time, things turned out quite different and not necessarily in the positive direction I had hoped for. Going into college, I expected that it would take me quite a while to adjust. Living in a new city, with new people, and yet another new school to learn the ropes at. On its own, college can be an intimidating new obstacle until you get used to it. My first weekend on campus, I did not know a single soul. My somewhat shy personality makes it difficult for me to approach unfamiliar people and strike up a conversation, which did not bode well with the whole making friends task. But like all introverts, I still needed some sort of outlet to relieve my thoughts to. So having at least one friend was essential.
My first college roommate selected at random, was unfortunately quite the party animal. So most nights I was left to myself. This was not exactly something I enjoyed. I would have rather been hanging out in a friend’s room. When I was younger, this would have been something that I would have loved, but as I have grown, I realized that being alone for long periods of time leaves me too deep in my own thoughts. If left too long, it can trigger a depressive state. It would make me fall into a deep pit of sadness that at times, I struggle to get out of. The most frustrating part, was that most of the time when I began to feel sad, there was not a clear cause of my sadness. Yes, I was alone which I was not fond of, but I would start to overthink unnecessary situations in my mind that weren’t even relevant. Sometimes I would work myself up so much about a certain thing that it would make me want to scream and cry. And sometimes, I did because it was the only way I felt like I could relieve the feeling. Days would go by where I wouldn’t want to get out of bed and go to class or even eat a meal. It was no way for anyone, especially someone as young as myself, to live.
Following my first month at college, my parents were starting to pick up on a few signs that I was not myself. Some days when they would FaceTime me, I would be emotional and others, almost emotionless. I would become easily frustrated and push away their questions and comments about how I was doing and feeling. It was at this point that my mom first approached me about seeking out the help of a counselor. From how bad things had got over the past few months I knew that I needed help but to be completely honest, I was not sure where to start. Fortunately, my college provides counseling services free of charge as part of the health center. This made it easy for me to connect with a counselor. The day of my first appointment was filled with nerves and uneasiness. At this point I did not have much faith that another individual, no matter how well trained they were, would be able to help me over the mountain of emotions I was feeling.
Following the appointment, I was pleasantly surprised with how patient and understanding the counselor had been with me. She allowed me a majority of the time to discuss how I was feeling along with asking me a million questions about my family and lifestyle. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I could spill all my thoughts and feelings out to someone else who was able to understand them. Each time I visited, she was able to give me a new strategy to attempt to manage my emotions. And I must say, they truly have improved my mood and my overall outlook on life. I began to make monthly appointments with this same counselor and I am currently a little over one year into the process. I still find myself having days that are more difficult than others, but I feel like since beginning counseling, I have developed much more effective ways of managing them. I know at times, it can be easy to lose hope and let your emotions engulf you. And you begin to feel like the situation is hopeless. But I’m here to tell you that sometimes it really is as simple as finding someone to talk to about what is going on to make everyday life seem less stressful and much more manageable.
By: Sophia Sikowski, Anxiety In Teens Contributor