A helping hand: how the counseling center supported me

When I first walked into Blow Hall 240, I had a lot on the line. To be blunt, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to live. I just felt hollow. I was physically and emotionally exhausted from putting up a front all the time. Everything about me looked great on the outside: I was a full scholarship athlete with a double major and a close group of friends. What was harder to see was how much I was struggling behind closed doors. Still, despite how much I needed help, I had an exceptionally hard time agreeing to seek out counseling when it was recommended. Counseling sounded fine for other people, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t help me.

Luckily, I managed to put aside my skepticism long enough to get through my first appointments and realize that I was wrong — counseling isn’t just for a select group of people who look or act a certain way. Little by little, I also came to see that I had to stop pretending to be happy all the time before I could actually enjoy things again. In my case, this meant having some painfully honest conversations with friends and family; it meant long nights lying awake in bed, trying to piece together the messy details of my life; it meant facing everything that I kept hidden below the surface of who I presented myself to be. That last part is where the counseling center really came into play.

Of course, with my low expectations and initial attitude, it’s easy to see how the whole counseling experience could have been a disaster. Instead, I found that I was met with genuine acceptance and encouragement every time I opened up enough to work through the depression that brought me there. It was during these times at the counseling center that I truly learned the value of being authentic. In fact, it’s almost ironic that I spent so long trying to get back to my “old self” when all I had to do was be real and deal with what was in front of me. Slowly, the good days began to outnumber the bad.

Now I can honestly say that I like who I am: independent, determined and an overall happy person. I also strive to be compassionate and show others the same level of understanding that I received when I needed it most.  Although my journey at the College of William and Mary is coming to a close, I think I finally have the courage and the skills to handle whatever the world throws at me next. To me, that’s worth more than the knowledge I’ve learned from every class here combined.

Email Carleigh Wrobel at cawrobel@email.wm.edu.


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