UW-Madison senior shares her undergraduate experience and how her life and career path changed after joining a student organization.
My transition to college was harder than I expected, emotionally and academically, and I added to the difficulty by being too ashamed to admit I was struggling. I avoided my friends from high school, because I thought they had this image of me as a perfect student, and I didn’t want to tarnish that reputation. I was too young to realize that my grade school friends may have seen me this way because I was one of the only Asian-Americans in a predominantly white town. I had molded myself to fit their stereotype so it would easier for me to fit in. It was hard for me to make new friends, because my previous friend-making model of being in the same classes and activities with people for twelve years where my reputation preceded me wasn’t working anymore. I told my parents that everything was fine – more than fine, great in fact – in every weekly phone call. Even the thought of letting them know their “perfect” daughter was crumbling under the pressure of expectations and barely finding the motivation to get up every morning paralyzed me and kept me from seeking help. We didn’t talk about mental health problems in our family. Years later, my parents told me they knew I was struggling the whole time.