First generation college student

My name is Peter Tun and I am a sophomore at Brown University. I am a first generation student from New York City, where I went to Brooklyn Technical High School. I am currently very involved in mental health awareness and LGQT rights. In school, I study Psychology and Economics. Outside of school, I love playing volleyball and meditating!

There’s an undocumented myth that college is the best four years of your life. Starting my first year at Brown, my expectations were set higher than the stars; after all, it is often ranked as the happiest college! But to cut to the chase, the truth is, college can be wonderful, but you will face difficult times, sometimes more often than not, and sometimes during your finals. The key thing to know is that often, there are valuable resources that you can use to help you get through your challenging journey.
As a first year, I was easily overwhelmed because I had never been surrounded such a large concentration of successful and brilliant individuals. This made me feel inadequate and I pushed myself beyond my limits. I took an extra course, I tried to skip pre-requisites for courses, I joined multiple groups, and I tried to juggle in a part-time job. Slowly but surely, all of my extracurricular and academic stresses started to tug at my mental health.
I felt more isolated because all my peers seemed to be living up to the pretty picture that college paints. Everyone seemed to be thriving and was as graceful as ducks swimming in a pond. Or at least, that’s the portrait they strive to paint. I soon realized that I was not alone in my endeavors; it was only until I looked under the surface of the water did I see that all of these “graceful ducks” were furiously kicking as to not drown from the stress. I started reaching out to my friends and the residential assistant. Eventually, the RA directed me to CAPS, counseling and psychological services.
The critical thing to take away from this story is that college can be fun, but like all good things, it comes with its flaws; it will be stressful, difficult, and you will feel overwhelmed and alone. However, it’s OKAY to feel unhappy and it’s okay to need support, but it is not smart to keep to yourself and think it will pass. A hidden message is to work SMART, not hard. When your mental health is compromised, you will see your physical health begin to fall, your academic abilities will surely decrease, and your overall college experience will suffer. SEEK HELP.
When your friends ask, “how are you,” do not answer with “okay,” but rather reach out and ask for help. If they are your true friends, they will care and comfort you, if they are not, it’s best to cut people out of your life earlier because college is extremely draining and you should not waste your time on people who are not worth it.
Take care of yourself and get to bed. This is something that many people struggle with but scientifically and through personal experiences, I can validate that sleep deprivation can lead to being more prone to anxiety and depression. Prioritize yourself and remember that FOMO (fear of missing out) can be overcome. Just remember that if your mental health is not at its full capacity, all other aspects of your life will be negatively affected by it.

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