As I have spent the majority of my adult life in school, I have found that the cliché of you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends is absolutely true. My family is probably like yours to a various degree, they stress me out, they make me happy, and they are always there. One of the reason’s I have been as successful academically is because of the support system I have had at home, especially through my diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. I never thought at the age of 18 that I would find people who cared as much as they do, but I was surprisingly wrong.
At the U, I found people that were just decent human beings. The friends that I have made are truly still my family, even 6 years later. We have lost touch as sometimes happens, but if something exciting happens, like an engagement, I always let them know I am happy for them and we catch up in an instant. Although you expect friends to be your surrogate family while at college, one of the things that I did not realize was the how my chemistry department would become my family too. The department, including my advisor, helped me through some of the most difficult parts not only in my academic career but saw me through difficulties with my family back home. Whether there was a death, severe illness, or even my own health, these people supported me and made sure I got healthy and worried about the work later.
I graduated on schedule despite times when I was so sick I was sent home by the Dean, because of this surrogate family. I continued my education there and again because I knew the compassion this department had for my particular situations. My grandmother died around the time of my thesis defense and my professors and the entire school was understanding and allowed me to reschedule. Again I graduated as expected and left to pursue my Ph.D., but this time with a new department and a new group of people.
Here I have had my ups and downs but truly have found a stability in my new members of my surrogate family here. There are people everywhere that will actually care how you are, you just sometimes have to be open and look in unexpected places. However, whether you are moving to a new area, going to college, you need to find these surrogates. It may be uncomfortable to share your story with people if you aren’t used to it, but honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to your professors or teachers, I highly suggest that you at least share your experiences, good and especially bad with those new people you meet along the way.
Life isn’t always pretty, but with the support, you’d be surprised by what you can overcome and achieve.