…is what a faculty member at my university said to me when I had to medically withdraw from school for the third time. I was also reminded that no other student had withdrawn so many times and that I could kiss grad/professional school goodbye because no school would admit a student who had so many W’s on their transcript. I was told that I needed to sit down with my family and do some serious “soul searching” to figure out whether I really wanted to pursue an education. It was also suggested that if I wasn’t able to get a grasp on my health soon, I should start looking into other options.
These are all things that devastated me. How could someone view me this way? Didn’t this person see the potential my mom sees in me? Why was the focus on the fact that I kept withdrawing, and not that I kept coming back?
You know what I finally realized? None of these things matter.
Health matters. More than anything. I know it may seem absurdly obvious, but we tend to forget this or choose to dismiss it as a priority. I was forced to put my life on hold when my health issues repeatedly slapped me in the face, and each time I had to withdraw from college, the decision only became more difficult. I felt ashamed and confused, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it because it felt like my friends were able to carry on with their lives and continue to succeed while I was stuck in one spot, unable to move forward. And then there was homegirl, who only confirmed my feelings of doubt and insecurity by insisting that I peer into the depths of my soul and consider dropping out of college for good.
But it’s OK. Because she didn’t understand what I was going through–people often won’t understand. In fact, they will misunderstand, which will lead to assumptions about your behavior and choices. They will tell you that you cannot do things and try to offer advice they think you need (when, in fact, they couldn’t be more mistaken). An inches-thick binder full of medical records will not be enough to convince them, but who are they, anyway? As my dear uncle often says to me, we were given two ears for a reason: take unsolicited advice (or anything unpleasant you may hear) in through one ear, and allow it to exit through the other.
Yes, I had to withdraw for a fourth time as well. Am I going to go back? Absolutely.
Know what you’re capable of achieving, and don’t forget it–write it down if you have to–and look at it every day (I would be lying if I said I didn’t do this myself). Pausing your life is sometimes necessary and there is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean that you’re wasting time, that you won’t persevere, that you can’t succeed. Embrace the time you must take to heal, appreciate the personal growth, and plan the incredible things you want to accomplish when you hit “resume.”
Even though much of my past has been difficult and my present isn’t exactly ideal, my future is going to kick ass.