Each time I reflect back on my life a year ago, it becomes more and more difficult to comprehend how different everything felt then.
In terms of classes, I remember being focused and crazy-driven to maintain my A average in Biology I. In those days, a challenging, heavy course load felt like an obstacle, but one that I knew I could make it through no mater the outcome. I was able to focus in class, and I could get lost in my thoughts for hours about science and organizing my lecture notes. I was excited to go to class and discover realms of the world I had never known existed, and I was ecstatic about pushing my brain to think quicker and more critically. Of course, I’m not going to say everything was perfect. There were days when the assignments felt overwhelming, I felt inadequate, and I don’t think I ever finished a biology test that spring semester without an immediate phone call to my mom, crying about how I had for sure just lost my GPA. But as a whole, life was good.
On the running side of things, life was pretty awesome this time last Spring. My teammates and I were all hitting PRs that tack season, Pauric was coaching the women’s track team, and I was finally feeling like I had found my place at Mercer. After deciding over Winter Break that I was going to transfer my sophomore year, I had made it my mission to finish strong. But along the journey to leaving, I realized that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. I wanted to be a part of the great team Pauric kept telling us we could be. I wanted to experience the Macon traditions with the girls I had spent freshman year with. I wanted to be able to look back senior year and laugh at how far we had come together during our time on this campus. Sure we had 6am practices, but we were out there pulling each other through tough workouts, and getting shit done. Every Friday that wasn’t a race weekend, we would hit up the Indian Mounds for a progressive run that was very rarely ever progressive. Those were my favorite days. Everyone was high off of making it through another tough week of classes and workouts, and the hour-long run was almost guaranteed to be laughter-filled. No matter what had happened earlier in the day or week, for that carved space of time, none of it mattered. We were there for each other, and we were happy sharing random thoughts and stories amongst the trees.
But I don’t want to paint this idyllic picture of life last year. Things weren’t perfect running-wise or relationship-wise, and it’s important to look back on the past realistically. There were still days where I felt unwanted, lonely, and not enough, but they were fewer back then. There were the days when I stood on the sidelines and watched as two people I had thought were my best friends ignored me. And after months and months of my attempts at being included failed, eventually I gave up. But back then, there were other people to turn to. Thinking back on it, maybe the fact that I made friendships outside of our trio was what pushed me away from them. That was never my intention, though, and I hate what we became. At the heart of it all, I just wanted friends for the long haul.
If I had to choose three words to describe how I felt at this time last year, they would be: strong, fast, and excited. Excited to hit times I had only ever imagined, to earn the grades I worked so hard for, and to spend three months away from a ton of my usual responsibilities. After returning from Conference, I said goodbye to multiple friends for the summer, but I was completely unaware that it would be one of the final good moments we shared.
Today, I don’t have friends to turn to on this campus. I spend every day trying to distract myself from how lonely and unhappy I am here, and I actively count down the days until I can leave for good. I eat my feelings, which only makes me hate myself more, and if I could sleep through the rest of the semester and just skip to the day of my final, I would.
What I don’t think my old friends realize is that I never asked to be unhappy, and I’m not acting this way to get attention. Coach Hurst told me after a practice this semester that I should, “just try to be happier. People don’t want to be around sad people, so be happy, and it’ll be easier for the girls on the team to hang out with you.” Then he cut me off from running with the team, even on recovery days. And while I’m happier not having to see his face or hear his voice any more, that decision essentially isolated me from the people I was closest to. And even though he said I could still interact with them outside of team activities, I could count on one hand the number of times I have hung out with people on the team after I was kicked out of practices. I was officially on the outside of a group of girls I had once been a central member of. During the Fall semester I had seen hints that relationships were changing, but I hadn’t anticipated the worst.
This semester has in many ways sucked. I lost almost all contact with my teammates, becoming more of a pariah than a person to interact with. One of my best friends moved across the country, so I couldn’t hang out with her either. Someone I thought was my friend dropped me as soon as the new semester started, and when I asked why, the only explanation I got was: I’m busy. I gained like 20 pounds from stress-eating and being on the wrong anti-depressant prescription. After being separated from the team I’ve had to run from campus every day, and also alone- that is if I could gather enough motivation and self-assurance to not start crying as soon as I started my watch.
I am unbelievably ready for this semester to end. I’ve changed prescriptions, and I’ve gotten a LITTLE bit closer to my normal weight(still got quite a way to go, but I can’t dwell on that or else I’ll start crying haha so we’ll just leave it at that). I’ve been accepted into my transfer school, which gives me hope for next semester, and I know I only have a few more weeks of running alone.
Another thing I’m not sure some people here won’t understand is that I didn’t set out long ago to be here temporarily. I haven’t talked about transferring each semester simply for the drama factor of such a topic. And I didn’t stick around just to repeat the shock factor over and over. Each semester that I returned to campus, I genuinely believed things would get better, and I was determined to do everything in my power to make sure they did. I didn’t apply to UGA until the middle of March because in February, I still had hope. I still held on to the tiny possibility that people here- SOMEONE here- cared about me. It took some dark, and admittedly scary, thoughts to realize that nobody was going to come looking for me if I left Mercer. In fact, I realized that if something happened to me in my room, nobody would probably realize it until about 3 days later.
I love life too much to waste it any longer being sad, so if that means I need to transfer schools to be happy again, then that’s what I’m going to do. No, I don’t expect UGA to be a cure-all to all my issues, and I don’t expect it to magically grant all my desires. But it’s a fresh start. It’s a place where I don’t have to walk around and think “that’s where my roommate and I did homework together back when she actually talked to me”, “this is the route the team would run together sometimes for early morning workouts”, “these are the steps I used to be able to smile while taking.”
Less than on week. Less than one more week until I never have to be alone on this campus again. Until I never have to lie staring at the walls of my Loft, wondering what I did to push away people I care about. Until I can really begin fighting the demons in my head. In less than a week, I will have my family beside me, there to support me until I am ready again to support myself. Four days. And as a very wonderful friend reminded me this week, during a night of chaotic thoughts, 4 days is nothing in the grand scheme of it all.