20something profile: Meredith
I never wanted to be in college. I hated going to class and only took the classes that I was sort-of interested in. My apathy towards college was strong, and I mindlessly went from class to class, where learning was just a side effect of doodling in my notebook.
It wasn’t that I disliked school or learning; I was actually deeply unhappy with something outside my academic life. I originally wanted to go to a university far away, but after pressure and threats from my boyfriend at the time, I gave up that dream to stay with him. A decision made for someone I believed I was in love with turned into my biggest life’s regret.
The relationship escalated from manipulation and threats to physical violence and mental abuse. My boyfriend routinely told me I wasn’t worth anything, I was a slut and disgusting. My life slowly shut down; I couldn’t do normal daily things without feeling afraid of him.
It took over six months of therapy and a lot of questionable self-help books to escape my situation — by that time I was in the middle of my sophomore year. I felt like it was too late to transfer schools and definitely didn’t want to drop out. I was constantly reminded of the past by continuing to be at the school where much of it started.
After leaving him, I took a summer job in Colorado and being surrounded by my happily involved co-workers brought me to a couple of epiphanies:
- I could either continue to hate my situation or embrace it and milk it for what it was worth.
- My school had so much to offer, but I never considered taking advantage of anything.
- I could easily just graduate with the bare minimums and continue a life in my hometown. However being successful, happy and doing something I love is the ultimate “fuck you.”
I made a conscious decision to become involved in my school and make the best of my situation. Using my past as a crutch wouldn’t do me any favors. I started by enrolling in my university’s honors program, focusing on my major of Advertising and Public Relations, engaging in my internships and becoming a member of the public relations student association and several academic honor societies.
I cannot stress how important being involved and actually caring about my education impacted my life. I now have so much real-life experience, opportunities, and community and national connections than I ever would have by just attending classes. I believe that my involvement will make getting a job in my field of media, communications or public relations easy.
While now I am busier than ever and my May graduation is starting to loom on the horizon, I think back about how different my life has become in the last few years. I went from being in a miserable, abusive relationship, which affected all aspects of my life, to being a joyful, productive student with a great future ahead of me.
I plan to explore a new city or country, start working in my field (hopefully with a women’s advancement group) and continue my studies into graduate school. I blog about whatever I want at WhyeNot, which usually is art, hip-hop and current inspirations in my life.