Opinions, Special Projects

College taught me to prioritize my mental health to achieve success

When I graduated high school in May 2015, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life at 18 years old. I was pressured by my family to pick a major, and it stressed me out.

I didn’t care about the general education classes such as math, history, and science because they were all boring to me. I would often tell myself : “School is seriously not for me.”

But, I proved myself wrong.

The difference was that I didn’t have a “plan” set in stone, and I didn’t know what my passions were yet. So, instead of going to a four-year university right after high school, I enrolled at Cypress College to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

Let me tell you, it was a totally difficult transition for me, especially because I struggled with my mental health. It took almost five years for me to get my associate’s degree in journalism.

I suffered from untreated anxiety disorder and depression during my first three years in community college because I was too prideful to ask for help. Being raised in an old-fashioned Latinx household made me believe that therapy is for “crazy people,” and medication will lead to addiction.

However, if I didn’t seek mental health services during my fourth year at Cypress College, I would have contributed to a demographic where more than half of Latinx individuals ages 18 to 25 fail to seek mental health treatments such as therapy and antidepressants.

During my first semester at Cypress College, I took a human biology class because I was interested in the medical field, but failed the course because I was terrible at memorizing scientific terms and body parts.

It discouraged me, but also helped me realize being a STEM major wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the long nights of trying to learn about blood types or the different parts of the brain.

So, I changed my major to English because it was one of my favorite subjects growing up, especially when I got to write persuasive or argumentative essays.

But, I was wrong again. The English classes were boring because I wasn’t passionate about learning World Literature or Shakespeare in order to get a degree. So, not only was I undecided for a second time, but I started to feel hopeless and had a strong urge to drop out of school.

Four years went down the drain. Just like that.

At least that’s what I thought until I decided to sign up for an Introduction to Journalism course, and the rest was history.

I actually went to school ready to learn and was so engaged in the class discussions about “What’s going on in the world?” regarding current event topics and the importance of news journalism.

It was exciting and motivating. I felt like I finally picked the right major.

I dedicated an entire year to the journalism program by being involved in the Cypress Chronicle newspaper and also taking the required courses to obtain an associate’s degree.

The day I applied to graduate from Cypress College was the most emotional moment for me because even though I wanted to give up so many times, I pushed through the obstacles.

Getting a college degree isn’t a race, I chose quality over quantity.

Sure, it was discouraging seeing other people graduate college before me, but I had to keep reminding myself that I’m on my own timeline and that’s okay.

Now, I’m in my last semester at Long Beach State graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

I chose myself, my mental health, and my self-discovery over graduating college “on time,” which led me to meet some lifelong friends at CSULB.

Even though success is valuable, so is my happiness.

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