I woke up anxious this morning. Vacation ended today, so it's sort of predictable I guess. I think what it boils down to is that spring break was the last mark on the calendar before the big one: graduation. For some reason, as I sit on this flight listening to Adele (and hey, maybe this is only the Adele talking because she gives everyone the feels) I'm tearing up and I don't really have any reason why. It's not like I'm going back to a terrible week full of exams and bad weather. It's just that the countdown is on, and for whatever reason, today, it feels more real than it ever has. I worried that sharing the following would be too personal and weird and uncomfortable. But, this is my blog after all, the one place where narcissism greets you with open arms, saying, "Think about yourself, Tatum! Talk about yourself some more!"
With that, let's just jump right in. I went through a tough time my sophomore year dealing with anxiety. I sometimes woke up with stomach aches and occasionally would really just need a good cry. If you've ever lived in a dorm, you know as well as I do that there's no good place to cry. There's always someone just around the corner and usually it happens to be that cute guy from your Spanish class that also lives there--conveniently, he's only around when you're crying or when you have to roll out bed at 3:30 AM to the sweet sounds of the fire alarm and leave the dorm because some idiot burned popcorn, again.
I share this upon approaching graduation because there's a common idea that your time in college makes up "the best years of your life." So far, I think this is absolutely true. I have thousands of moments and memories to prove it. I also think, though, that it's not always so easy. One night, at the end of my sophomore year, I confessed everything that had been happening to someone who was still a relatively new friend. I worried that I was unloading too much baggage, that I was becoming a burden...but she soon told me that she was going through the exact same thing. She later told me that my confession was one of the only reasons she didn't drop out of Carolina after just one year. She needed to know that someone else sometimes struggled too, just like she did.
There's a certain pressure that comes along with living a full life and taking advantage of every opportunity and making the most of the very short four years you have at college. Discovering yourself isn't just steady sailing on a calm sea. Sometimes growing up feels like you've got 10 holes in your boat and you just broke an oar and it's raining and a bird just swooped down and stole the last bite of your sandwich and Dad isn't right there to help you paddle. But mixed in with those times are the golden days of sunshine and laughter, cackling at bad jokes that just get worse and worse, and Maple View Farms ice cream and fake plastic cockroaches that your roommate hid all over the house before she left for winter break. There's that 30 minute phone call with your mom that makes you question what the heck you were thinking when you told her pre-college that you probably weren't going to call that often. There's the time that you and your roommates each buy a different food item with cheese from cheesecake to queso and host what will become the first of several "cheese parties." There are bad grades, good grades, average grades. Awesome days and downright horrible days. There are days spent lying in the quad and days spent holed up in the 5th floor of Davis Library promising to yourself that you'll never procrastinate again (hey, at least you tried to keep that one).
I don't think I would change my college experience for anything in the entire world. I had a bit of a tough time for a while, but who the hell doesn't? I will forever be someone who occasionally wakes up anxious, but I also think that I will wake up every day as a person who feels things more deeply, connects to everyone more closely, and appreciates the good times with more enthusiasm. I love who I am. I'm eternally grateful for everything that I've gone through to get to who I am. And, if you can't tell, I love the University of North Carolina.