My college experience is not your traditional one.
I know some of you, definitely my parents, were like wait, she hasn’t graduated yet?! To be honest, I myself was starting to think this day would never come! But I am happy to report that as of December 15, 2017, I have completed my undergraduate bachelor’s degree of science in Dietetics! (YAYY) To say this has been a long time coming is no understatement! It truly has been the most taxing, lengthy, confusing at times, BUT most rewarding experiences of my life. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to even be given the opportunity to go to college, especially without any student loans. It is not a gift I take lightly and I forever owe my parents for giving me this chance (and then some) !!
But to truly grasp the extent of my excitement, accomplishment, and even my gratitude—I have to take you back to my senior year of high school. To put things into perspective, 18 year old Kelsey was in a (what I thought to be) serious relationship that was “guaranteed” to result in marriage. When you are in an all consuming relationship like this at a young age, you lose so much of yourself. It’s like you don’t know who you are without the other person. That is exactly where I was at. Because of this, I was not very motivated about college. I didn’t know what my interests were and I didn’t really care. I wanted to be with this one person and that was it. For some reason, my parents decided to keep me from attending the same college as him–so I went off to Illinois State. I spent one miserable semester there before calling it quits and coming home. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and I were struggling to do long distance and it was becoming evident to me that he was pulling away. While I was home, I decided to enroll in a local community college, do some general education credits—while trying as often as I could to visit him on the weekends…
You can probably see where this is going. Yup, he dumped me. And I have to say, It was the greatest blessing in disguise because it forced me to get my life together. But at the time, it was like my whole life was falling apart. Like everyone around me was going on with their lives and I was stuck on pause. As you can probably imagine, I went into a deep depression that I didn’t see myself recovering from. Because without him, what did my life even mean? Writing this now, it is easy for me to remember back to this exact moment, these exact thoughts, but it is also easy for me to recognize how toxic and unhealthy this relationship was becoming. Due to my mental state, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to school, so I took the semester off. And when I finally felt up to it, I started to look for a job and that’s when I found PetSmart. PetSmart was the perfect distraction for me. I met awesome friends, was working all the time, and constantly surrounded by animals. I credit a lot of my healing to this job, keeping busy, and my family’s support. Once I was getting back on track, I went back to community college and started to think more clearly about my future. Through vacations to New York, working long hours, getting to know myself again and spending time alone, meeting new people, constant therapy by not only my psychiatrist, but my superhuman mother– I found myself. I found my passion, my drive, and a much clearer path for my future.
And that is when I found the University of Kentucky. It wasn’t exactly a place I really had a desire to go to, but it piqued my interest. Going somewhere warmer, far away from home but not too far, with a completely different feel and scenery was right up my alley. It turns out, I made the perfect decision for myself, without even knowing it! Lexington quickly became home. I made friends in my first few weeks that continued to be part of my life throughout the entirety of college. I joined choir which became a great outlet for me during a stressful day ( and also conveniently supplied most of my friendships and relationships ) I really enjoyed most of my classes, finally learning more about what I was passionate about and taking on culinary school halfway through—another great decision (thanks mom) And of course, I got swept up into the Kentucky basketball phenomenon which is absolutely unavoidable when you attend UK! Road trippin to games and making crazy memories–I’ve had the best time here!
As I said, my college experience is not your traditional story. It definitely did not come without failure, heartbreak, and hard lessons. But I am happy to say, I made it! Through it all, I became a much better version of myself that I never would have discovered if I would have given up a long time ago! I won’t annoy you with a cheesy pep talk.. (never give up, reach for the stars…blah blah) I think you get the point. But I will say, I am so thankful to be here now telling this story!
Cheers to graduation and 5 1/2 years! Thank you UK for all the good times! GO CATS!
I hope everyone has a great holiday with friends and family! Remember to be thankful for all you do have in your life :)