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College Student at a Crossroad

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I’m in the process of completing my freshman year of college, nothing about what i’m doing here or how i’m acting appeals to me. Over the past 5 years I’ve been through a lot; I came out of the closet, got ostracized from my community for being a lesbian, my father died. I was one of the top field hockey players in the country, became bulimic, abused alcohol, sleeping pills and pain killers. I quit playing hockey (one of the great passions of my life), then i shifted to anorexia and cutting, while still popping pills like candy. I lost a third of my body weight and would pass out when i stood up. During the worst part i over dosed twice, once was an accident and once i was trying to kill myself. I succeeded, for 11 seconds. Truth be told, it was the best 11 seconds of those 3 1/2 years.

It’s been a year and a half since then. I’ve put in a lot of time, effort, love and work. I’m back to my original weight, i have a healthy relationship with food and myself. I’ve even found Buddhism. All while making it back out into the world and going to college. I attend NA meetings once a week, there are a lot of temptations and i’ve tried using some drugs again but I don’t even like what they do to me anymore. So staying sober hasn’t really been too big of a problem.

From time to time, i get depressed. But that’s nothing i can’t handle. I do have this feeling though, like this isn’t what im suppose to be doing with my life. I know that no one can tell me if that feeling is right or wrong, but every day it seems to get a little bit stronger. Sometimes its all i can think about. When i look at my life from the outside and see all the things i have (tall, athletic, attractive, smart, a family who loves me, people i am truly friends with, a great girl friend) i think “this is all anyone could ever want.” Yet something about it seems empty, like i’m just going through the motions. Some of the other addicts in my group say that they’ve felt that way too, especially for the first few years while sober. But i don’t believe addiction is where this feeling is coming from.

I think it has something to do with everything i felt when i died. My eyes tunneled into this warm white light and it enveloped me. It was the most loving/beautiful thing i’ve ever felt. Everything was perfect, even when i woke up i was euphoric for hours. I don’t talk about it that much, mostly because it leads people to believe i have a morbid fascination. I don’t. And i never thought about it until one day a few weeks ago, i was painting and it just sorta hit me. I started to cry, but it was like i was watching myself cry. Ever since then, that feeling of my life going down the wrong path has exponentially gotten stronger. I just don’t know how to deal with that gnawing feeling anymore.

My mom wants me to stay in college, understandably. Longterm, I don’t know what i want. But right now i just want to make art, and to fully feel whatever this is. I’m not lost, just i guess a little unsure about all this because it hit me so hard and i don’t know what to do.

College Student at a Crossroad

Answered by on -

A.

It is interesting that you noticed this feeling when you were painting. Painting is considered to be a right brain activity. Right brain activities are ostensibly associated with creativity and emotions. Many people, when engaging in their art, are actually in an altered state of consciousness (ASC) which is similar to a state of mediation. In a similar vein Maslow talks about peak experiences, which are similar but not identical to what you have described:

“…sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an “ultimate truth” and the unity of all things … the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe….he feels at one with the world, and is pleased with it …”

“…feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless that one ever was before, the feeling of great ecstasy and wander and awe, the loss of placing in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened…”

College Student at a Crossroad

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). College Student at a Crossroad. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/07/college-student-at-a-crossroad/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.