Commuter Life: Rock bottom has a basement

A basement with a working light. -Photo courtesy of Flickr user David.

My professor said something in class a few weeks ago that hit me like a ton of bricks.

“If you don’t intern somewhere, when you graduate you won’t have a job.”

She reminded us that we will be competing against people who have internships, writing samples and experience.

Her words echoed in my mind throughout the class and played on a loop during my long commute. I clocked in and out of my dead end job with the weight of my future on my shoulders.

She was right.

I’m not the only working student at Rowan. I work full time and take full time classes, but that doesn’t make me special. There are others out there pushing themselves just as hard as I am. Yet, I encounter students everyday who seem to have it all figured out. Some students have blogs, Youtube channels, and not just one internship but two or three!

All I could think to myself is, “What have I been doing?” I asked myself this question over and over following my professors reality check. How can I work so hard to move forward and still feel behind?

A few days ago I thought about it once more after a long day of work. Then I opened my apartment door, and it was dark. The electric was shut off. (Yup, not out…but off.)

My sister Amanda said it best,“Whoever came up with the dumb line ‘Once you hit rock bottom it’s only up from there’ was wrong. You can fall between the rocks and break your neck!”

I sat on my couch that night wrapped up in covers and surrounded by candles. With no phone or TV to numb my mind, or wifi to get my assignments done, I was left with nothing but my thoughts.

As students were tested by our professors on what we learned in class. As young adults, were tested by life on situations that we’re not prepared for.

We can eliminate our social life, rearrange our work schedule every semester, and try to get involved in as many extracurriculars as we can to puff up our resume, but what we can’t do is put life on pause.

I walked through campus the next night looking at everyone. I wiped my face hoping no one would notice that I used a lantern to do my makeup. Then it dawned on me. How many other students are struggling just to be here?

If you are, I hope you’re reading this.

Communication is key: Our professors aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what we’re going through outside of class. But don’t take this to heart.  They have their own jobs and their own lives. They are people too. So don’t be upset with them if they have strict deadlines or policies. Talk to them. Explain your situation. I know it may be awkward or uncomfortable, but don’t use that as an excuse to fall behind. Our professors are here to help us move forward, so let them. They had to get through college too, you know.

The SHOP: The SHOP, located at the Rowan Boulevard Apartments Building 5 in room 141 is a food pantry for students who don’t have the finances to buy food. The new resource center also provides school supplies, hygiene products, and confidential support services for students in need. Open Wednesdays from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., and on the first and fourth Saturday of each month, The SHOP, which does not have any financial restrictions, is a not just an addition to Rowan University but rather a student necessity.

The Wellness Center: Sometimes, no matter how resilient you are, the stress can pile up. A person can only fake a smile for so long. It’s okay to be miserable or pissed about your situation. It’s perfectly normal to look at the sky and ask “Is anyone working up there?!” We are human and we were given emotions for a reason. It’s okay to feel them; and it’s okay to share them. There’s more to life than just college. There’s the rest of the world. Stop by the Wellness Center and just talk to someone. You don’t always have to go through everything alone.  

Stop comparing yourself: Believe me, I did it and it didn’t make me happier, richer, or get me an internship. Bad things happen to people, like a death in the family, losing your job or getting your electric shut off. However, although your circumstances may be challenging they don’t make you any less than the students around you.

The world is competitive, yes, but success isn’t given it’s earned. So although I may not be the most successful student, I’m still a student capable of success, and so are you.

We’ve made it this far, how hard could it be to go a little further?

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