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Cougars & Mustangs

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Oh boy. This is it. The last week.

It crept up on you, and now you’ll be painfully aware of each passing day until its pursuer—the heralded fall 2015 semester at Cuesta College—arrives. This hasn’t exactly been a kind year to you, with an exceedingly nerve-wracking summer break … in which the eponymous breakage refers more to your spirit than a pause in the chaos of normality. Whatever happens to you from this point on, please, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for surviving thus far. Now, let’s prepare for this together.

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To begin with, whether this be your first semester of college or just another tick on the chart, there’s a dark, brutal truth to be aware of, because the consequences of ignoring it are too high. To be frank, college students are among the most depression- and anxiety-stricken members of the population. A study by the American College Health Association found that more than half of college students have experienced “overwhelming anxiety” at some point over the last year; 40 percent of them even “felt things were hopeless.”

College is an important transitional period in a person’s life toward being self-sufficient in “the real world,” a term developed by people who believe the process should be roughly analogous to teaching a baby bird to fly by pushing it out of the nest and hoping it figures out how not to go splat. Birds who have flown for too long to remember how scary the experience of falling is will tell you to stop being a baby about it, because if you don’t make it through college like they did, you’ll never amount to anything. 

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. 

You are already so important. So special! And you’re going to be tested beyond the limits of your patience, asked to put an alleged future ahead of the mental health you have now. So, please, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit your anxieties. The less mental health is talked about, the easier it is for its tormentors to win—we can refer to this as Voldemort syndrome. Living in fear of the darkness is just giving it power. To succeed, you must stand up against it, but when clinging for dear life on what seems the very pit of Hell itself, it’s easy to forget the critical, ultimate truth: You are loved. And take it from the attention-deficit, autistic, transgender woman with crippling anxiety who sent you this message: Dear, you are not alone. Let’s own this together.

Contributor Chris White-Sanborn knows that the future is so bright it blinds anyone who tries to take a look, thereby filling them with the sort of uncertainty that brought them to try looking in the first place. Send her your collegiate news via cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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