When I was in college at SUNY Oneonta, I used to throw out a quote often misattributed to Marilyn Monroe that stated, “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” Looking back, I wish I hadn’t given so many people that ultimatum. At my worst, I overwhelmed and terrified my friends. I was so determined to get through school that I denied myself the professional attention that I so desperately needed. I knew that the on-campus counseling center couldn’t take on a case like mine because they were only designed for short-term cases. Besides, I had so many co-occurring issues that I didn’t even know where to start. At my best, I was simply content. Happiness was a foreign concept to me. It got to the point where it was simply assumed that I was always in a bad mood- and that assumption was mostly correct. Most people probably wouldn’t handle me at my worst with no evidence that they’d see me at my absolute best.
But my friends at school stayed. They stuck by my side through some of my worst times, even when they didn’t have to. Once I finally admitted that I needed more help than I could get in a school setting, I left the college to start intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment. I always felt like I owed people something for hanging out with me when I was in that state. I decided that the best thing I could do for my friends was to leave them alone so they could enjoy the rest of their time in school, no matter how hard that was for me. I felt like life was going on without me, even though I was now just living a different life than they were. They were doing what they needed to do, and I was doing the same. We did what we each had to do as individuals to make us better, more accomplished people. On the surface, that meant school, jobs and internships for my friends. For me, that meant genuinely feeling as though my life is worth living, and letting more positive energy radiate from within me.
As I pack my bags to begin a new educational endeavor, I realized that the worst thing I can do to these people that I care about so much is to act as though they are forgotten. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Everyone I met in college made an impact on my life, but perhaps the most influential people were those who treated me as though I was still worth their time and effort. They treated me as though I wasn’t gone beyond repair, and as I’ve told some of them about my progress, they tell me they told me they knew I could do it. I’ll never forget that.
I talk quite a bit about myself. My story of hope and recovery is important to me. However, the whole point of this post is to celebrate and thank some of the most genuine people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. Their stories are just as important as mine. They’ve worked their asses off to maintain the financial aid needed to stay in school. They’ve spent years finding their passions, and they’ve used those passions to make a difference in the lives of others. They’ve survived broken families, broken broken hearts, and broken dreams. Like myself, they all live to tell the tale. I cannot think of a single friend from school who didn’t accomplish a goal of some kind. Despite having their own struggles, they still helped me with mine.
It’s never to late to start taking the steps to feeling better, but it’s extremely difficult to do it alone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. I cannot thank my friends enough for that.
Also, here’s an actual Marilyn Monroe quote: “We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”