You Deserve More Than “Getting By.”

By Joe WardSeptember 3, 2013

I’ve always had a hard time accepting the idea that “the only constant thing in life is change.” However, as a recent college graduate in my twenties, I think it’s finally stuck. I’ve also realized that with each different transition in life—whether it’s a high school or college graduation, a job opportunity, an expanding family, or even just a new friend—we are given a unique chance to grow into the individual we wish to become.

But transition can be, and usually is, really uncomfortable. Despite the smiles or expressions of excitement about the “next chapter ahead,” there can be a lot of unknown, uncertainty, and doubt.

I vividly remember starting college in the fall of 2009 and thinking to myself: “What if I made the wrong decision? What if I can’t make honest and lasting friendships? What if I’m not meant to be here? Worst case scenario: I’ll just participate enough to get by or go through the motions until this part of my life is over.”

Looking back, sure, “getting by” would have been the easier route. However, choosing not to participate in my new community would have been a set-up for disappointment, for surface-level relationships, and in turn, for limited personal growth.

Life-giving relationships and healthy community require constant effort, from everyone involved, not just some people. And achieving these things during seasons of change often means not going the easier route. If growth and progress were an easy task, our world would be a different place, perhaps even utopian. But reality suggests the contrary, and for good reason. Despite the many times I have considered just “getting by,” I have also witnessed the unimaginable joy felt in choosing to share life—the good, the bad, and the difficult—with others. Coffee dates. Singing guilty pleasure pop songs together. Cross-country road trips. Reaching out to a friend when I’m not feeling my best. Sitting with and holding the hands of others when they’re not feeling their best.

Honest community and friendships play such a vital role in our well-being and mental health. We were meant to live life with one another. To know and be known. To hear and be heard. To love and be loved. But sometimes it can seem impossible to believe in and experience such beautiful companionship in these scary new stages of our life. Various challenges get in our way: fears, insecurities, depression, anxiety … We all have our own obstacles. But it’s a myth that we should be able to overcome them on our own.

One of my own obstacles is my stutter. My speech impediment has been, and perhaps always will be, a personal struggle. It’s caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety as I’ve grown up, and even though I’ve learned many ways to effectively speak around it, this is still a factor in my fear of transition and change. If I’m being truly honest, there have been numerous times I have even used my stutter as an excuse to opt out of things. I convinced myself that this was an obstacle I was not meant to overcome. But as I began my freshman year in college, I recognized that hiding my stutter wasn’t nearly as important as learning how to simply be honest with others about it. And when I stopped trying to rid myself of my stutter, it actually freed me from it, in a way. It helped me find my voice in community and my worth in the context of others. While it wasn’t easy, transitioning into college became an experience defined by the loving community I was able to engage in, rather than my stutter or the other obstacles in my life. 

As I consider the pivotal role of healthy community in our everyday lives, as well as the overwhelming reality of living in a constantly changing world, it would seem we are repeatedly asked to do something rather intimidating. We are encouraged, time and time again, to be visible and vulnerable with others, with the hope of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. However, I truly believe we can build something beautiful, if we do it together. 

Don’t hide. Don’t “get by.” Don’t walk through change alone or opt out of community. You were meant to share life with the world, and as you do so, the world will be better for it.

—Joe Ward, TWLOHA Summer 2013 Intern

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Comments (12)

  1. Kylie

    Thanks, I needed this. I *just* started college and have been feeling rather discouraged about the whole thing. It’s refreshing to know that other people feel the same way about transition and change. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
    1. Jocelyn

      Kylie, all changes are hard. Starting college is one of the harder ones. There’s so much change that can happen in college – meeting people, learning new ideas, learning how you want to change to become the person you want to be. But then, that doesn’t stop when you graduate! :)Be kind to yourself, and don’t forget the things that have helped in the past. Sometimes, we all need to wrap up in a fluffy blanket and snuggle. Don’t tell yourself you’re too old for that. I’m a lot older than you are, and sometimes, snuggling in bed when I get home is what gets me through the week.

      Reply  |  
    2. Glennie

      Hi Kylie, it is completely
      Normal to feel the way you do I started college 2 yrs ago and I still have the same
      Overwhelming feeling, I’m 23 yrs old and barely found what I want to do after 2 yrs of being confused and taking a bunch of random classes. I graduated high school 2 yrs late so I always feel like I failed since I’m 23 and don’t have any kind of degree but I keep pushing and u have to also, goodluck with it and have fun it’s a wonderful experience

      Reply  |  
  2. Anonymous

    I started college in the fall of ’09 and graduated this spring. And there and in so many other places have just gotten by.

    Reply  |  
  3. AC

    Having social anxiety and depression and then moving to a foreign country for work haven’t made for a good mix in my life. The only way I have found to cope is to be honest and open and put myself into community. Its not easy but the rewards and growth are worth it.

    Reply  |  
  4. Kayla

    Thanks for sharing this. I have also recently started college like most kids and i have been questioning if this is the place for me to be at for four years. I’m an outgoing person but to be thrown into a completely different environment I am not used to is hard. Its nice to know others feel this way to. I know i can get involved in the community but the question is, is this the community for me? One of the positives is that I know I don’t have to stay here and suffer. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  5. miriam

    Not just beautiful but well written and honest. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it will speak to many.!!

    Reply  |  
  6. miriam

    Not just beautiful but well written and honest. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it will speak to many.!!

    Reply  |  
  7. Julie

    I started grad school in the fall of ’09. Having been out of college for a very long time (I’m in my 40’s), I was honestly scared I’d flunk out the first semester, felt I had nothing interesting to contribute to the class of 20- and 30-somethings and could just fade away after December. I didn’t try to make friends. I spoke a little with others seated near me. Nothing else. After Christmas, I started coming out of my shell, and discovered a great group of classmates. Fortunately, this was the right university and cohort for me, and I graduated in December ’12 with a 4.0! Don’t wait too long to make the effort to get to know people. Have a great college experience, don’t just tolerate it to get through.

    Reply  |  
  8. JR

    This post really hit home for me. I am in my second year of college, and I have felt stuck in a rut for a while. I have tried getting involved with different communities on campus, but I feel like I joined the wrong communities. People don’t seem to care about each other or want to get to know each other. It’s hard for me to put myself out there and make friends because I’m very introverted and shy. I am very rarely honest with people when I am having a difficult time. It’s hard for me to talk about my feelings, so I journal them. But even then, I try to ignore how I am feeling most of the time. But I have definitely had a hard time fitting in at college. I’ve always had a hard time fitting in throughout the school years. But I feel like I have no friends at school right now. I thought things would change once I got to college and that I could find a community and friends that made me feel like I belong. I don’t want to keep just going through the motions at school and pretend things are fine when they clearly aren’t. I have been hiding and pretending things are fine ever since I started college.

    Reply  |  
  9. FRP Pultruded Profiles

    Nice article, It was funny.

    Reply  |  
  10. Methoxyfenozide

    Cool article, It was helpful.

    Reply  |  
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