Taking a Break from College

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Top: Madewell Shorts: J.Crew Factory Location: Dallas Museum of Art

I have decided to take a break from college.

When I started college I was the typical over confident “I’m a sophomore by credit hours’ freshman. In fact, I started college with 47 credit hours from AP classes. I planned to graduate in 3 years, then go straight to law school. Preferably a highly ranked one.

Then life happened.

I finished my freshman year, the Spring semester of which I spent studying abroad in Italy. I came home to Texas and worked for the summer. Then as I was getting ready to go back to Georgia, everything fell apart.

“We found a tumor in your abdomen”

Those words changed my life in seconds. Instead of getting to enjoy the fall of my sophomore year; I got to spend fall of 2015 in and out of the hospital where I had 4 surgeries to both remove pancreatic cancer and then repair the damage that removal caused

As soon as January 2016 came, I stubbornly wanted to go back to college and resume my “real” life. I wanted to get back to the plan.

But I was so weak. Cancer had drained me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I returned to campus weighing little over 85 pounds. I had so little energy and had a lot of bad days physically. I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t keep up and be like everyone else. For the first time in my life, my grades were struggling significantly. I was dropping classes like it was hot.

In an act of desperation to try to get my life back to the plan, I applied to the UGA at Oxford program. In my interview with the program director, I told him how I had beat cancer and was back as a student and doing great. I felt like such a fraud. I hadn’t been to any of my classes that week yet there I sat telling him how amazing I was doing.

The UGA at Oxford program ended up being a bit of a saving grace for me. It was extremely challenging academically but I was able to excel. There I gained back confidence in myself and my intellect. I finally felt like I could accomplish big things again.

Unfortunately, January came and back in Georgia; I fell apart again. Everything felt so similar. It was almost claustrophobic, as though I was always on the cusp of reliving my nightmare again. Deja Vu in the worst way.

I started the semester so hopefully, yet along came several difficult to explain health bumps and I began to spiral. Everyday it felt like something new and awful was going to happen. Each doctors appointment and new concerning symptom added to my misery. I found myself in almost the exact same place as the previous spring.  For me, Poor physical health beget exceptionally poor mental health. 

All of the physical issues are still pending. Even tomorrow I am having another CT scan to try to find an explanation for all the symptoms I have been experiencing over the course of this year.

One diagnosis I did manage to get this spring though was clinical depression. I had spent so long trying to force myself to stick to a plan I made at 18, despite the fact that the circumstances of my life had changed so much in those three years. I perpetually felt like a failure when I didn’t meet the high expectations I held myself to. It took a long time before I finally decided to admit that I needed help. I am so glad I did though. While the physical issues are not completely resolved I am in a much better place mentally.

I have decided to give myself a break though. I want to figure out what is going on with my physical health, and what solutions there are to treat it. I also just want to stop making myself miserable by being so overly harsh with my self-assessments. I always felt like if I admitted that I needed help if I admitted I needed a break, or if I admitted that I wasn’t going to graduate on time; I would be a failure. I’ve realized that this narrative in my head is a lie. I am going to be successful. I am going to graduate from college. But if it takes me a little longer that’s okay too. So I’m taking a gap year or gap semester. I’m not really sure right now. I want to focus on myself and my health so that I can accomplish all I am meant to. 

I’m going to be blogging my journey here and also posting fun stuff relating to my various interests. I promise it’s not gonna all be about cancer! Follow along if you’d like.

With Love,

Paige

 

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39 Replies to “Taking a Break from College”

  1. That may or may not have been easy to write but i enjoyed it. Very proud of you for opening up. I hope you find some comfort and healing through your writing. I love you and pray for you daily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mrs. Karen. I love you and your family very much too. It’s scary to be opening up like this but I have gotten a lot of support thus far. I hope I can help others along the way too.

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  2. Oh precious Paige you are soooo special and soooo loved. We are praying you never ever ever ever hear that “C” word again! I think a gap year is an amazing idea!!! Xox

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paige,

    I was touched by your post. Putting things on hold can no way be deemed as failure and recognizing your body is telling you to take a different path right now is an intuitive plan. Many blessings for renewed health and strength in your journey to accomplish your dreams. I know you will inspire others and that might be what part of the new plan was. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Life is a journey for sure. I admire you being real and open. I think that is how we heal ourselves. We were not created to be alone in our struggles. I will be praying for you and look forward to your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mrs. Schindler. It is scary to be this open but I have really appreciated the support that I have gotten thus far. I hope I can encourage others who are struggling too. Also, thank you for the prayers.

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  5. The decision you made to take a little time to listen to your body both physically and mentally, shows great strength and maturity. Don’t ever think it shows that you are weak. That just isn’t the case at all. You are young and have plenty of time to accomplish the great goals you have set for yourself, and I have no doubts at all that those goals and more will be met and exceeded 😉 One thing we all have to learn in life is that when our plans don’t work out as we think they should, God always has something even better in mind, so hold on tightly to that thought! I know it’s hard, but maybe this delay is for a really good reason, and someday you may look back on your life and be able to see how and why things happened for the better timing wise, I mean. Prayers and hugs to you as you take this gift of time that you are giving yourself. Enjoy some special time with God too, He is always great company!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, M​rs. Milhorn. I am starting to see that it’s okay to take a break and that God has a bigger plan. I appreciate the prayer and encouragement.

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  6. Thank you for your courage Paige! The truth shall set you free. I know God will use your journey & your willingness to share to bless others. Know that you are being prayed over & have peace in your decisions- May God heal your body & renew your mind❤️Loved you as a little girl, Love you still❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Paige,
    I am really proud of you for taking a break from school and taking care of yourself. You sound like a very strong smart, young woman and you’ve come a long way you’ve overcome a lot. And you’ve also accomplished a lot.
    I myself was diagnosed with colon cancer 3 years ago, and I’m very thankful that God has healed me and I am now 3 years cancer free. I’m still struggling physically and mentally however it does get better in time. My body and mind want to do so much more but I’m limited when I listen to my body. God is an amazing healer he’s already cleansed my body and I’m cancer-free I just need to take my time to become all that he’s meant for me to be.
    And I’m very proud of you for taking the time to listen to your body and follow your dreams.
    Blessings and God bless you Paige.
    (I am friends with your mom 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cancer is a tough path to walk no matter what. It is hard to explain to people that just because the tumor is gone doesn’t mean you are all good again. The physical and emotional challenges linger on for a very long time. It is frustrating but I am working to embrace this rather than fight it as I have been the last year or so. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I pray you continue to be cancer free and grow healthier and stronger daily.

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  8. Dear Sweet Paige: I am emotionally moved by your post. Many nights I asked Granny Annie how you were and finished the evening with a special prayer for you to get healthy and happy. I pray now that you will do whatever it takes to get well and then chase your dream. The good thing about dreams is you can always hold onto them! But, health, well that’s not so conforming. Our family loves you and we pray for you and think that what you are doing is wonderful. Take care and know that we all support you! Tami and Buddy Bryan and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Tami. It hasn’t been an easy road but I have such a wonderful family supporting me. Thank you for your prayers as well. They are appreciated.

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  9. Paige, you are a very brave young woman and I’m keeping you in my prayers. Many times in life I!ve been forced off the path I was trying desperately to stay on, and each time God has taught me much about Him and myself. My husband, at 61, just lost his job five months ago. My plan was for us to really save a lot over the next few years, and then he could retire. Back to trying to fully trust God’s plan. May your day be beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah hah finally got to the post I was looking for….haha you sound so much like me! I pushed myself , fighting this diagnosis a and trying to have my life back on track, I suffered more a physical, emotional a and mental consequences. I haven’t reached that part yet in my blog where I stubbornly insisted on going to medical school a year and a half after my diagnosis to have it come back out of remission and doctor threatening to stop treating me if I went back for second year. Especially since yours has to deal with vital organs…going to classes will physically drain you and trying to keep up with your peers. Have u thought about finishing up your first degree online? To give your body time to heal and strengthen? Perhaps you can still pursue Law School afterwards 🙌😊 Health is wealth and sometimes in stubborn pursuit of our dreams, we can abuse the body God has given us. Ask God for wisdom and understanding of new limitations of your body, mind and strength

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