Today was the first day of my last semester of undergraduate work at James Madison University.
As I walked around this familiar campus for the millionth time, an all too familiar feeling rose in my chest – something between light anxiety and panic. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I told myself : “You’ve come this far, and you will walk many more miles, one step at a time.”
Any sort of change, or transition, such as the beginning of new classes, or new anything really – has always brought a great deal of stress and pressure to my life – I thrive in routine and controlled environments – so college has been a challenge to say the least.
I wonder sometimes how I’ve made through. But I’ve come to realize a lot of it has been because of  perseverance. 
Nothing about my college experience has been “typical”.
While many young adults makes friends in their dorm that will last a lifetime, I made friends in therapy groups and treatment — and for the first time in my life felt validated. 
In college many young adults toss around ideas, beliefs and values that they may establish and hold on to for the rest of their lives. I tossed around recovery methods, diagnoses and medications – that too will help me for the rest of my life.
During this time too, a lot of people find love, meet that special someone, some get engaged – or even married. I’ve just begun to care for myself the best way I know how and take a step forward in loving who I am.
My college experience has been far from typical. But I don’t think I would change it if I had the chance. Since I came to JMU as a freshman in 2008, I have become stronger, learned more about myself, and discovered not only how to care for myself, but how to begin loving myself.
So today I felt overwhelmed (as usual for the first day). But I took great pride in the fact that I have persevered – and it gives courage to continue to do so.
I Stand for Perseverance.