Remember: You are loved
Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 20:08
Wow. Another summer has come and gone and here we find ourselves on the cusp of fall and a new adventure here at FGCU. I would first like to say welcome to all of the new students and glad to see all of the returning faces of students, faculty and staff.
Every semester, each one of us is unsure of what lies ahead on the road to the future. We may encounter struggles, triumphs and everything between, but it is important to remember that every day counts and that nothing is so enormous that it can't be dealt with.
For four years now I have served C.A.R.E.S. Suicide Prevention with the ongoing mission to save lives. It's an unpleasant topic to talk about, but nonetheless the conversation has to be started, and I am the one willing to do so.
Every year, 1 in 24 college students make a plan to take their own lives. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death of college students behind car accidents. They succumb to the perceived pressures exuded upon them by parents, peers and faculty to be better than their best.
For many first time college students, it is difficult to go from a top achieving, popular senior in high school to a lesser-known freshman of an ever-increasing college population or from a wallflower to a shining star. Have no fear; we all understand what you are going through. Try being a 30something first time college student.
In the first few weeks you will be overwhelmed with, well, everything, but don't let it get to you.
I would like to pass on a few pieces of advice. First, breathe. I know you may find this difficult, but you have to just stop and let some of the stress slide off your back and absorb what's important. Your professors want you to succeed. Yes, they want you to do better than what you think you can, but they will not be disappointed as long as you try your best.
If you find that their assignments are difficult to understand or you get lost, go see them. Talk with them and they will help. If you keep it to yourself you will feel even more stressed.
Second, cry. If you feel it welling up, let it out. You tough guys out there need to cry every now and again, too, even if it's when no one is looking. Crying is a great natural stress reliever.
Next, resist the urge to party hard. There is a time for socializing and learning how to be independent, but you are after all here for an education. The perfect way to accomplish both is to work on your assignments when they are given and not waiting until 20 minutes before they are due. This is not high school, these are not book reports and you will need to work for the grade. I have managed to keep a pretty respectable GPA while juggling two kids, volunteer work, karate lessons, meetings, writing and a social life, so I know how it is. Prioritize and you will be fine.
Also, get to know people around you. This seems like an impossibly daunting task for many of us but the more people you know here, the more support you will have come finals week. There is such a diverse population here at FGCU that you are bound to find a few people that share your interests, no matter what those may be. These new friends will also be able to tell when your attitude changes when dealing with stress and will be the first to ask you if everything is OK.
Don't worry so much about romantic relationships. Try and make that lifelong friend that you can confide in.
If you find yourself in a place that scares you, ask for help. Utilize the FGCU CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) program. They can be reached at 590- 7950 and offer therapy and crisis intervention.
If you are worried about contacting a school service (which you shouldn't be, they keep everything confidential), you can always reach out to C.A.R.E.S. at 239-931-1200. We can offer a list of resources and even financial help if need be to seek help.
If you find that you need someone to talk with immediately in the middle of the night, pick up the phone and call 1-800-273-TALK.
That's the national suicide hotline and they have people there 24/7 that want to listen to you and offer you a friendly, non-judgmental voice. We all know that often it's easier to talk with a stranger than people you know. Also available online is the Trevor Project, a LGBTQ resource, at www.thetrevorproject.org, where online chat is available if you can't use your phone. They can be called at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.
If you find that all of these services overwhelm you, please remember that you can talk with your parents or guardians. As a mother, I know parents want to be able to help you work through the hard parts, not just celebrate the accomplishments. They want to know that you will be able to confide in them always, and above all else, no parent wants to lose a child.
So, in the grand scheme of things, I promise you that one grade you didn't like doesn't matter as much as you do. No one wins if you aren't here. No one demands perfection or is harder on yourself than you are, so relax.
Life happens when you are not looking, so sit back and enjoy the scenery — and always remember someone C.A.R.E.S.