Ever since I can remember, I have always liked school more specifically learning. I remember being the only kid in my class who was happy to learn. I especially looked forward to math and science classes.
One day when I was around 6 or 7, I heard about college and how it was a school where you take the classes you want. That’s why I decided that I would go to college. I had no idea what I would study, but I knew that college would be in my future.
As I got older I started to realize just how much work and time it would take to go to college. I had to learn how to manage my time and not procrastinate. It was hard not to dawdle at first but, it got easier over time.
I had to learn how to study and figure out what works for me.
“I was determined to be the first person in my family to go to college. I wanted my family to be proud of me. Most of all I wanted to be a good role model for my siblings. Since I decided to pursue higher education, I felt a huge amount of pressure on me to do my best and get good grades.”
The pressure wasn’t something that others made me feel, but rather something I did to myself. It’s just something I have always done whenever I strive to be the best and that’s why I felt pressured. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to live up to my own expectations for myself.
Getting good grades became the only thing I cared about. I started to prioritize school over my own personal needs. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and would skip meals because I was too busy with homework, or because I was studying to stay ahead.
For instance, one night I stayed up until 2 a.m. learning about trig identities because I was having trouble with them. I didn’t want to fall behind so studied a lot. I also, made myself practice drawing a unit circle every day for about a month until I was sure I memorized it. I put myself under so much stress because I felt like I had to get good grades.
I didn’t tell anyone about this because I didn’t want them to worry about me. I also couldn’t stand the idea of needing help from others. Looking back at this now I realize that there is no shame in asking for help. If anything asking for help makes you a stronger person because it shows that you trust others.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when my grandma passed away that I lost myself for a while. Prior to her passing I already felt like I was burned out. My focus and attention weren’t on school anymore for months before she even passed. I didn’t really care about anything anymore because it all seemed unimportant. After she passed these feelings were only amplified. I was struggling mentally because I felt numb and also because I lost my passion for school. Something that used to be my number one priority didn’t matter to me anymore.
I didn’t know if I wanted to go to college anymore and if I would ever be happy again. School just became something that I had to do. Life was at a standstill for me. At the same time, I felt like I couldn't disappoint my family. I wanted to be the one person that everyone could rely on. So I just kept it to myself again, and to everyone else, I seemed “normal,” but I knew that I was stuck. I felt pressure to still prioritize school, but I knew that would be bad for me.
A few months after my grandma passed the pandemic started and it helped me get my life back on track. It gave me so much time to think about my future and what my goals are. I started to prioritize myself and eventually, my passion for learning came back.
I suddenly looked forward to attending class even though it was online. I had more time to study, so it wouldn’t interfere with my sleep schedule. I was eating normally again and I didn’t feel numb anymore. I just needed to grieve and ask for help. I also needed time to think and see if pursuing higher education was still right for me. After I decided to continue working toward my goal I finally asked for help. I knew that if I wanted to still accomplish this goal I would have to put all of my focus and attention into it. I started to rely more on others rather than doing everything by myself. I also started keeping a journal which helped me work through my mental block.
This story was produced by Coachella Unincorporated and is part of a collaborative project “You’re Not Alone” that includes content from young journalists from Boyle Heights Beat, Coachella Unincorporated, The kNOw, Richmond Pulse, Voices of Monterey Bay, We’Ced and YR Media.