Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Cracked, but not broken

Ah, senior year of college — the last year to live in the same vicinity as all your friends, not worry about paying bills and have five-plus drinks in one night without being called an alcoholic. While senior year has some bittersweet moments, it’s also considered one of the most special years of college.

My senior year has definitely had many unforgettable moments. I have a great group of friends, had my best tennis season yet and excelled in school. But through laughing with friends, practicing with teammates and getting good grades, I have been harboring intense emotions. Although my senior year has been good at times, I have also had some of my most painful life experiences. I was sexually assaulted, had my mentor cut contact with me because his wife thought he loved me, had a close friend spend a month in a psych ward, and dealt with the emotional stress of falling out of a complicated relationship with a person that meant the world to me.

The trauma and sadness of all these events caused me to slip back into a dark depression I thought I had conquered years before. On top of all this, I was dealing with the expected tough situations of senior year, such as finding a job and coming to terms with ending my 17-year-long tennis career. My senior year has had its special moments, but it’s had many difficult moments as well.

I am not telling my story because I’m looking for pity. I am telling my story in hopes that fellow seniors dealing with tough situations will feel comforted by knowing they aren’t struggling alone. I am telling my story so juniors can prepare themselves in case their senior years don’t go as planned. I am telling my story so freshmen and sophomores can understand that while college is fun, it can also be very complicated.

I have learned many things from my experiences, but I will only share the ones I think are the most important. First, if you feel like you’ve had a traumatizing experience and need help, get help. Suppressing emotions isn’t a way to deal with a problem, because emotions always manage to come back in one way or another.

Second, understand that people may make promises to you that they won’t keep. It’s impossible to know what the future holds, so you can’t rely on someone to always be there for you.

Third, learn when to prioritize yourself over others. While it’s good to be considerate, it’s crucial to know when to put your own needs first.

Fourth, realize that while everything may happen for a reason, the reason may not always be beneficial or clear to you. Other people involved in the situation may gain insight that drastically improves their lives. You may not understand why something happened to you, but keep in mind that someone else may have learned a valuable life lesson.

Finally, try to stay positive. No matter what’s going on in your life, there are always many things to be grateful for.

While these pieces of advice are not always easy to follow, they have really helped me take steps towards healing and living a happier life.

My senior year has been tough. At times, I wanted to take a quarter off because I didn’t think I could handle everything that was going on. A month ago, while talking to my best friend, I told her, “I keep thinking the next bad thing to happen is going to be the one that breaks me.” She looked at me and said, “No. You are never going to break.”

If you gain anything from this story, please remember that if you are going through a difficult time, have faith that you will make it through. Even though it may seem unbearable at times, you will overcome the pain and come out the other side as a stronger person. Even though what has happened to me this year still hurts very badly, I know that one day my wounds will heal, and I will look back at my senior year and smile, because even when I really thought I was going to, I did not break.

— Krista Hardebeck

 

Contact Krista Hardebeck at krista2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.