I walked off of the graduation stage believing that all my anxiety, depression, lack of happiness and the negative feelings I had experienced through grad school were going to disappear immediately.
Little did I know… reality was about to hit.
I have always been both a straight-A student and a planner. During my four years of college, I made sure I graduated before all my classmates. I did it with honors, a dissertation, and an award.
To do that, I had unhealthy habits. Yet, I thought it was fine. That I could do it all.
So, when I decided to move from Mexico to the U.S. to pursue a Masters’ Degree, it was no surprise. What I did not know, was the amount of emotional labor that came with attending grad school in a different country. Not only was I dealing with being away from my family and my local church, I was now all of my classwork in a foreign language.
I served in housing overseeing a building of 600 first-year students and dealt with drugs, alcohol, sexual misconduct, and even bees in an elevator (but let’s leave that one for another time) daily.
I spent the past two years feeling a need to be perfect.
Failure or weakness was embarrassing to me. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations the whole time; yet, no one knew about my struggles.
In my social media, there are no clues to those hard times.
What is in there are photos of my trips around the world and my nice outfits. Lies and lies. On top of that, I isolated myself from everyone because they did not understand me. And how could they if I was portraying something different?
Have you ever felt that way?
I was so focused on myself that I forgot to live under any truth. I blamed my graduate program and the circumstances around me for my unhappiness. So, when graduation was approaching, I thought I was finally going to be happy. I was wrong. Graduating without a job or not knowing where I wanted to continue my career took all my mind once I finally walked that stage.
Up until this moment, I do not think that I got to rejoice for earning a Masters’ Degree. All I could think of was how miserable I was and how my life had no purpose. I spent days crying, not eating and dealing with constant panic attacks. Still, social media portrayed a successful woman with perfect hair and makeup, and a big smile.
Realizing that graduate school was not the root of my struggles was hard.
I needed someone or something to blame. I knew that my heart had been away from God and his commands, and I did not want to admit it. It was scary to think of the consequences of my time away that I would rather continue living in a lie.
Yet, on one of those nights crying, I let my heart listen to his words. I went to my drawer and opened the Bible. That night, I felt peace. It would be more lies to say that after that night I did not deal with depression or anxiety anymore. Yet, with time, I have learned five improtant lessons.
5 Lessons I learned During Grad School
1. Circumstances are important; yet, they should not define our reactions. Our heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 29:7). When we let our hearts decide how we live our lives, we often feel isolated and unsatisfied. Nothing will completely satisfy us but God. Everything else will pass.
2. We live in an era where it is easy to portrait perfection. Yet, how much of that is true? Proverbs 31:30A reminds us that Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain… Yes, all of what we see in social media and around us will disappear because it is not centered on what is eternal.
3. When you feel incapable and unworthy, ask God for his strength. Depression and anxiety are real. And, God has provided us with specialists, biblical councelors, and friends who can be there for us during those times. It is okay to ask for help. It is within our weaknesses that God’s power is bigger.
4. I am not perfect, nor I will ever be (until I’m perfected in Heaven). And no one is asking me to be.
5. Finally, it is important to hear, speak and live in truth. Even when you do not want to, read your bible, attend your church, talk to your friends about your struggles. Do not isolate yourself.
A few things to think about:
- What are the things that you are valuing more than God’s truth?
- What is the lie you are believing about your worth or who you are?
- Where is your heart and what are you prioritizing?
GUEST BLOG: My name is Génesis and I am originally from Mexico. I just graduated with a Masters’ Degree in the U.S. I have learned tons from your posts in the blog for the past year and I have loved it. As God is transforming my heart, I figured that it could be good to share about it. While English is not my first language, I decided to give it a try! 🙂