I pride myself on my strength. I’ve always been resilient and for years I wouldn’t didn’t show my real emotions. I was a rock, I never asked for help when I needed it. I believed that I could work through any of my struggles on my own. I had my weaknesses, although I wouldn’t admit them to anyone. I only showed my strengths to the world and my private struggles were only known within the home.
I failed out of college.
That’s when I learned that I needed to ask for help.
I’m not dumb; I was simply full of pride. When things were going downhill, I kept going. First, it started with tests; I couldn’t do well no matter how hard I studied. Then I couldn’t make it to class. I physically couldn’t get out of bed to go to class. I was so exhausted all the time and I failed tests no matter what. Towards the end of the semester, I stopped trying. I would occasionally go to class when I needed to take tests then I would go home feeling drained and dejected. It was like trying to use a cup to bail myself out of the Titanic. I needed to be home, resting.
I was at my parent’s house when I found out I failed out and I finally had to tell them what was going on. I thought I was depressed, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Simply being had gotten exhausting. I asked for help. It was the most heartbreaking, embarrassing, and truly humbling moment of my life.
My parents were incredibly understanding. They told me that they wished they would’ve known how badly I was doing sooner. They booked appointments with my therapist and my doctor. We made a plan for me to get back into school; we looked into the appeals process and what I would need to do to be readmitted.
My therapist opened my eyes: I wasn’t depressed but I had one of the most severe cases of test anxiety that he had ever seen. He was surprised that I’d been able to graduate high school, but assignments and tests had given me high grades until college. Therapy was tough but necessary. It was the help that I didn’t know how to ask for. Help that I didn’t think I deserved.
My doctor diagnosed me: chronic sinusitis. I had come down with a sinus infection six months earlier and some parts of what should be as simple as a common cold lingered. I was exhausted and emotional because I hadn’t been entering REM sleep for months. This could’ve been avoided if I’d asked for help months ago, but I’d scared. I thought asking for help made me weak or incompetent.
After writing letter after letter petitioning the college to rethink their decision, filling out endless forms, gathering notes from my doctors and employers stating that I was willing to work hard, I was readmitted. I had to write these letters every semester until my GPA was high enough to be off academic probation.
I learned the importance of asking for help. I learned the importance of monitoring my mental and physical health. I learned the true meaning of perseverance. I humbled myself enough to realize that it’s ok to ask for help. I’m learning to be more open with my struggles in the hope that someone else with similar experiences would be positively impacted.
Failure is not a weakness, you can conquer that. The inability to ask for help until you’re at the end of your rope is a weakness. Sometimes we don’t learn how truly fatal our flaws are until we have to face them. Recognizing and persevering through your flaws is a strength that can never be taken away from you.