Discovering the importance of a community is key to good health

Sep 11 • Opinion • 153

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I transferred to Gannon my sophomore year of college. When I was growing up, I was always told to go local, whether it be Gannon or Edinboro. Naturally, I decided I wanted to move away. I was going to a new place to start fresh, and I was happy about it.
My first year wasn’t the best, but I was still hopeful. Within a few months, my parents went through a bad divorce, my long-term relationship with my boyfriend ended, I lost the house I grew up in, my service dog passed away and my grandfather developed brain cancer.
I wasn’t able to make many friends because I was so focused on being OK on my own. All I knew was if I kept working hard it would get better; it had to.
I was no longer able to leave my dorm room. I’ve battled anxiety and depression my whole life, but it had never gotten so bad. There has always been a shameful insinuation connected with moving back home, so I felt like I had given up and failed when I decided to move in with my mom.
If I could only be more independent, I thought, I could get through it. I was wrong.
The week before winter break, most students spent their time with friends and family while I spent my time in a residential unit, trying to figure out how I had let myself get to that point.
I made the decision to go to school the following week and it was the best decision of my life. In the darkest time, I felt better just being in the Gannon community.
I still struggle with people asking me why I go to Gannon and I feel the need to lie and say it’s because of lower tuition. In all reality, I go to Gannon because it has a community of people that I didn’t know I needed until now.
We are not meant to be on our own. We are meant to share our experiences with other people and to help each other out. Being with my family has helped me a lot, but so has the Gannon family that I’ve been surrounded by.
Even outside of the Gannon area, my bosses and the friends I’ve made have supported me throughout my process of healing and make sure I’m doing well.
A community is meant to lift you up, not only in times of need, but in everyday life. Find a church community or a club that fits you best and work to create those bonds that are the difference between living life and navigating life alone.
Recently I had a professor express concern about me because I was stressed, and it was really eye-opening to me that people at the university care so much. The teachers I have come into contact with truly care, as well as students who I never knew could be such a light in my life.
I got a second chance at Gannon and I’m forever thankful. I don’t know if anyone reading this might feel alone, but you’re not. You have me and so many others to surround yourself with.
I can’t stress how much comfort you can find with the right people in your life, but in good faith, I can say that I know you’ll find it here.

CHLOE FORBES
forbes004@knights.gannon.edu

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