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The College Student Vs. Emotional Baggage

So, you want to go to college?  You’re either starting classes fresh out of high school, or you are an older student who is bound by the day to day responsibilities of domestic life as well as the myriad of other issues that go along with being an adult.  Think you are prepared for the journey and demands that lie ahead of you in college, well grab yourself a life jacket and an inner tube and be prepared for the ride of your life.

There are many issues that spring up in life, from families to friends, car trouble and buying your first house.  There is the daunting drama that one faces when interacting and communicating with people as well as the discontent at one’s own emotional base-the thoughts that creep into our mind like the grim reaper of insecurities-can we handle what lies ahead of us?  What sort of obstacles shall we face along our journey in our education?  The answer is simple.  Stay optimistic and as Walt Disney has said, “Keep moving forward.”

Within the past nine months of my life, I have faced an abundance of challenges that have left me downtrodden and weary.  From a divorce, dating the man of my dreams only to find that he was being duplicitous, getting back together with said boyfriend after copious amounts of thought as well as persuasion, to my ex-husband moving out of the house, my friend moving in, and then promptly moving out.  I’m trying desperately to find and maintain a job; there is also the care of my children, cleaning my house, which is in total and complete disarray from the jostling of belongings.  There is my work online, the visit from my boyfriend, as he is home from Afghanistan on R&R who is, as I have been informed of as of late, planning on popping the question.  There is the meeting of his family, the friction between his younger sister and I, which has furthered the anxiety of the impending engagement.  Of course, I have to take into consideration the shaky relationship I still try to maintain with my ex-husband, which is exhausting in of itself trying to maintain civility.  There is also the attempt to obtain cash assistance through the state, until I find stable employment, so that I can keep my head above water, as well as filling out paperwork for home modification through my mortgage company in an attempt to lower my monthly payments, so they are more manageable.  There is trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, and because I am the go-to for my friends’ problems and issues that arise within their lives, I have spent time helping them categorize their priorities and help them along as much as I can and be the proverbial shoulder-to-cry-on.  Quite a handful, don’t you think?  The cherry on top?  Taking classes and trying to maintain a high grade-point average.

There are times when all I want to do is cry because upon looking over this list, it’s seemingly overwhelming.  In reality, it IS overwhelming.  There are times when I forego sleep simply to catch up on things, most of the time it’s because when I lay down to go to sleep, my mind is racing with things that need to be done and that basically life would be a lot easier if I could just sustain myself on coffee and energy drinks to get it all done.  I am the type of person who wants things done now, otherwise I cannot relax.  I have taken to multitasking a lot for when I have my children during the week I take periodic breaks to play with them while I am doing my work on the computer, or I enlist the help of my five-year-old daughter to help pick up around the house and try to make it as fun as possible so it seems more like a game than it does work.  I take blocks of time, mostly on the weekends when the kids are with their dad to play catch-up and when I take my cigarette breaks, I bring my phone with me, so I can get my social interaction out of the way at the same time.

Then of course there is the impending engagement as well as the friction with my soon-to-be fiance and his sister.  Honestly, I've been taking this day by day and not focusing all my time and energy in it.  As much as I believe in him, trust him, and love him, I’m also a stubborn fool, who thinks she’s superwoman, who can do it all.  I am the type of person who has a hard time asking for help, who is determined to do things on her own.  I have discovered ways of bypassing the need to ask for help unless it’s something that cannot be ignored, such as help through the state monetary wise.  From my own experience, I haven’t’ had the luxury of having dependable help regarding things that I need other than a reliable babysitter and proverbial shoulder-to-cry-on myself.  I have found through my experiences that the only person who I can depend on is myself and my dad for he has not failed me yet.  Sometimes I realize that pride can be a hindrance at times, but sometimes it’s better to sit back and think critically upon the situation at hand and write a list of things that need to be accomplished and then write a separate list of steps that need to be taken to accomplish that task instead of relying on people to do it for you.

Learning self-sufficiency in college is just as mandatory as the school work, especially for students who are just getting out on their own and becoming independent and out from under the umbrella help from the parental units.  Although sometimes the demands and surprise dramas that spring up in life have the ability to throw you off course, how you handle the situation on an emotional standpoint will help you to guide you through and better prepare you for the bigger obstacles that lie in the years ahead. 


I realize that it sounds corny, but life does not give you more than you can handle at one time and what life throws at you is determined by how strong you are and how much fortitude you have to jump over those hurdles and continue upon your way.  Usually, my first instinct is to cry, and then after I get the pity party out of the way, I think about and write down the tasks that are required of me within a given period of time.  When things like this happen, and you are stretched so thin, at a loss for sleep, and feel like the entire world is crashing down upon you, having someone to talk to also is important.  This confidant of sorts can also give you a perspective on what steps you need to take in order to get through the rut and sometimes because of the emotional connection that we have with our responsibilities and we as individuals know what is on the line if those tasks aren’t’ completed are often clouded by doubt, apprehension, and the second guessing of our capabilities.  Having someone to talk to can help sway those feelings into something more concrete, which will then turn into a sort of determination to succeed.

Overall, the most important thing never doubts yourself, and instead of looking at the big picture, take down one task at a time and check it off the list as you complete it or get through it.  For if you jump from task to task while taking breaks in between, there is a good chance you will lose track of where you are and fall further behind in your responsibilities.  List your top priorities first, and then move along to the less important tasks.  Keep the faith in yourself, and don’t ever give up for whatever rapids you come across within this river of life, there is a chance you’ll come out the other side completely drenched, tired, and spent, but when you look back you’ll think “Hey, I got out of there, and I made it through.” Then look to the front of you to the pristine waters that lay ahead.  If there are no pristine waters ahead, instead another onslaught of rapids, you’ll be prepared for the next round because you got through the first. 


iracquel's picture

True it can be quite

True it can be quite difficult to separate emotions from other daily aspects of our lives like our jobs and our education, but the fact is that our emotional life should not and cannot be neglected because it forms such a fundamental part of our lives that if it breaks down, it can almost break down your entire life. I'm sure most of us have heard of people who have gone into depression or mental breakdown and assuredly, it is all a result of emotional least ninety percent of the cases. That is why I always believe that in as much as we get too busy, we must also take time to ensure that we are emotionally healthy. Its not something complex to do. Emotional stability comes from simple things such as hanging out with friends, going out with your significant other and even calling your parents every once in a while. You may not realize it, but it is these simple things that keep emotional baggage far at bay. Not so many people realize it but the simple act of talking to fellow human beings is in itself very therapeutic. If someone hurts you, you can find someone to talk to about it....and you'll be amazed at how healing that is. If you feel stressed talk to someone about it or just write down what you feel in a journal or something....that's what I do and I find it absolutely relieving.....if there's no one to talk to, I put down all my angry thoughts in a book and I for some reason, never open that page again...seems silly but it does work to relieve me of emotional baggage whenever I know there are other things tht need my attention, other than me sulking at my emotional state... :)

PYETwentyTwelve's picture

Life is challenging everyday

And we all need to know is how to handle our own situations when they come up in our lives.  Many times situations can overtake us but as previously posted we have to step back, take some much needed time for ourselves to see the whole picture of what is happening and then step back in there to either solve or deal with what is and ride through the storm. 

Being aware of life challenges is something that is on one's mind and has to be dealt with eventually but if not then there is usually a price that one pays, like elevated stress, severe headaches or even the lack of rest or sleep.  Challenges will always come upon us when we least expect them and how you handle them will break you or make you a stronger person at the end of that journey.  Nobody's life is free from emotional baggage but it is something we don't have to continue living with, just practice facing it head-on and not let the nonsense get the best of you because it will if it is denied of even existing.  Owning up to what isn't positive in your life can be fearful but pushing through it will make handling another not so good situation easier next time around.


jvstanley's picture

I agree

I have been told countless times to kick back and relax-most importantly SLEEP, and despite the fact that i am the type of person that wants things done NOW NOW NOW, I can't help but agree.  Most of my friends also tell me that multitasking 'fun' with my responsibilities is not necessarily me relaxing, although I do think to the contrary.  But when I do get stressed, I call my friends, God bless them.  I suffer from anxiety and depression issues, so I know the importance of maintaining a healthy emotional balance and honestly without the help and insight of my friends, I'd be significantly more frazzled.  During stressful moments in my life as of late, my friends would text me and talk me through it, cheer me on and cheer me up.  I never hesitate to be there for them as they have been there for me.  :D

hellomath's picture

Try to do study group even if you hate it

Having a study group can sometime be the factor that determines if you are going to fail or pass a class. Going through high school, no one ever felt a need to have a study group. Reason been that the materials that we were covering in high school were relatively easy and didn't require a lot of studying. Other reasons comprise the fact that no high school student wants to wait around after school to study in the library alone; because students hardly go there. You only go to the library to borrow and return books. When I started college, all of that change for several reasons.

The main difference between high school and college for most students who attended public high school was the fact that they didn't have to pay a dime for high school. In college you have to pay for your tuition, books and food. As a result, passing every class is crucial to graduating with your degree. If you fail any class you will be required take it over, and you’ll also have to pay for it. So having a study group allows for collective knowledge while doing home work and studying for a very important exam. It increases your chances of passing that class.

Jay Pineda's picture

Along with the academic

Along with the academic things that we have to deal with, we have a heavier baggage to carry. That is our emotional baggage. As college students, we all know that we have to be focused with our school work 100% of the time every time we are in school. That's what we need so that we can get higher marks. We need to stay focused and motivated to do all the hard work which includes studying, reviewing, making term papers, group projects, reporting and more. It is already too much to handle right? Yeah it would be too much heavy if we juggle this with our emotional baggage.

Having a heavy emotional baggage while in school is a very very great distraction. I already had more of my share on this. Usually it is when I have petty(well, some are huge) fights with my girlfriend. We would argue even if we are both in class, and that is why we can't absorb the lecture anymore. There is also this one time that we are having a fight just 5 minutes before I take my exams. But I did not let myself get affected. I focused on my exam and was able to get a good mark. Studies and Emotions are two different things. You should not handle them both at the same time. If you cannot separate them, you will have a hard time on both.

newkid on the block's picture

It's tough!

Having to sort through the emotional distress during the college time is a tough thing to go through! No matter how much people tell to separate the work or studies from personal matters it is not that black and white. But I tried my best to delineate my personal life and work/studies by:

I never dated anyone who studies or work with me. It helps since once you leave the house you give some space and time for the emotions to cool down and not having to face it again and again. I have seen couples who are in the same department and guess what?! the problem and fight never dies during the day and it is awkward for others around.

Also, if one manages to keep their personal and private life separate, thereby reducing the access of your co-workers or work place authorities to your personal problems, one can avoid being judged or labelled by the work place authotities. Believe me, although people (for. example your boss) may seem compassionate to your problems at first, eventually they will judge your work or progress based on that and will always blame you as emotionally unstable one and thereby costing the work.


When I get too stressed out, I just step out go for a walk, listen to music or read a book just to take my mind out of it for few minutes or hours. While at it, I try also to do other things in my list get done so that one feel rewarded that they get something done. After that, once that initial emotional overload is over, my brain's rational thinking takes over and I make a list of things to do to face or solve the impending problem. If it is concerning the people I love, I always write a detailed email and ask to talk face to face and sort it out! It usually works!


emontgomery's picture

Yes, It's Hard

When I first began my career during spring quarter, I was engaged. By fall, I was single. There were a lot of issues that weighed heavily on my mind and in my heart during that time. We had been together for seven years, and I truly believed it would be forever. I started going to college specifically because her mother told me to. I did this to maintain my status with the family, along with wanting to improve my status so I would be a better husband and, hopefully, father. Moreover, as if all of this wasn’t bad enough, in order to go back to school, I had to give up my entire life and move in with her and her family. While she was across the country with her new boyfriend, I was living in her house, surrounded by her things, listening to her voice as she talked to her mother on speakerphone. In the beginning School had little value for me.

I think the hardest thing for me was reevaluating why I was going to school. Originally, it was for her benefit more than mine. Whenever I received a poor grade, I was ready to quit. After all, I was doing just fine in my life before this.

My point is that in order to get this far in college, I had to decide why I was doing it. I’ve seen many students who were in class because their parents told them it was either that or a job. School doesn’t mean much when someone else tells you to do it. I rediscovered how much I enjoy English. Moreover, I was given the opportunity to help others in the subject. Suddenly, I had purpose again.

I can still complain. I’ve been single ever since she left. I’m older than my classmates, so I’m never invited to hang out. Yes, I can complain, but having a goal keeps me going. Because of college, I am able to do what I enjoy, and that’s all that really matters.

Hearty Marial's picture

The Emotional Baggage

This one is tough, I mean dealing with this is ultimately hard and might lead to some complications in your life. This is the heaviest baggage one could ever carry. And yes, what you are carrying is really tough. I’ve been to that situation, not like that of yours really, but situation where I have to deal with people who misunderstood what I did, with maintain my grades and at the same time trying to work hard to pay for the laptop I purchased, and I am the only one paying it, without expecting any support from anybody else, even from my family. I have to deal with the people who keep on asking for payments from me since I have debts on them. Everyday I feel like giving up, but since I have started this, I have to finish this; and quitting or letting myself lost the chance of being able to carry that emotional baggage is really not my thing. What I did is that I just kept on thinking that I can do this; that I can carry this on, that quitting will never give me lessons in life that I can use in the near future.  I never let my emotions take me away. Yes, it is really hard, working on your own with people around you who are trying to drag you down, trying to break you down. Bearing in mind that positive outlook in life, paired with efforts and perseverance will always be your strength to carry this emotional baggage.