3 Things I Want to Say to My College Self

  1. Quit being so damn proud and ask for help.
  2. There is more gray than you would imagine– and it’s a good thing.
  3. Give more grace. 


Ask for Help

Look, I know that all your life you have prided yourself on your intelligence– how you can figure things out on your own, how your mind is such a steel trap you don’t need to use a planner, how you don’t take shortcuts in anything (except maybe gym, ha!). But things are gonna get harder and harder and harder, girl, and the sooner you learn how to suck it up, ask for help, and accept that help, the better it will go for you. In fact, you will feel even smarter— which makes sense, since it’s wise people who collect resources and use them. Quit trying to get to the Everest summit without oxygen. Utilize your mentors, the counseling office at your college, the weekend extension given on that writing assignment. One day, you will be so happy to have tools and to use them. One day, you will see that it was always smarter to humble yourself and ask for help. The sooner you learn this, the happier you will be.

Gray isn’t the Enemy

The truth is that you have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder– OCD– which is making you so incredibly uncomfortable with anything that isn’t black or white. And if something is gray, the uncertainty of it makes you wild with panic, enough that you will think yourself in circles until you are able to move that gray along the spectrum, one way other other, to black or to white, so that you can breathe again. But the truth is that the sooner you learn how to sit with the gray, to let it be, to learn how to breathe even in the midst of uncertainty– that is where you will find relief and freedom.


First of all, you’re a bit of a self-righteous jerk right now, aren’t you, Sommers? Because you don’t accept help from others, and because you force everything in your world to be either black or white, and because you have scrupulosity (sit tight, you’ll learn more about this in a few years), you sometimes act like you have cornered the market on Being a Good Girl. Please stop. It is in your weaknesses that God’s power is made perfect. It’s in your humility and vulnerability that you draw others and help them open up. The mask of perfection that you wear feels so necessary right now, but it’s when you take that off that you will start experiencing deeper friendships. It’s when you show the darkness of your heart and find that you are still beloved that you will taste that richest flavor of being known. Give grace– to yourself and to others. This is the better way.

12 thoughts on “3 Things I Want to Say to My College Self

  1. Thanks for this post! I’m still trying to learn to live in the “gray.” 🙂 I feel like I’ve passed the active obsession stage, but I still have this undercurrent of unrest. I’ve put the doctrinal/Christian lifestyle issues I was worrying about on hold for now, but my mind still wants to question EVERYTHING. It’s telling me that I DO know what to do about the doctrinal issue, so by not doing it I’m disobeying God; and it’s trying to trip me up by having me rethink everything I thought I “knew” – how God leads us, what living for Him radically means, etc. When the scrupulosity involves legitimate questions, how do you recommend I fight it? Should I use ERP/CBT methods, and expose my brain to the fear of disobeying God and going to hell? Or would a more appropriate response be to refuse to listen to my brain’s questions until I (hopefully) stop viewing them with anxiety? I just want to feel right with God again – although I’m not sure that’s a feeling I can force. I’m just not sure how to attack scrupulosity when it’s so subtle, and so intertwined with my conscience!

      • OK thank you! Just want to say again how much I appreciate this site…it’s really helped get me through a difficult time! Thanks to God, my family, and resources like these, though, I think I’m pulling out of it!

      • Do you have an ERP therapist you can ask these questions to? I’m not a therapist, and I’d hate to answer wrong!

        I guess if I were you I would try to identify what is the obsession here and what is the compulsion first. What is causing the anxiety and what is your attempt to alleviate it? Then you will know better what to do with ERP!

      • Hmm, for some reason this isn’t letting me comment in the correct spot. Anyway, to respond to your last comment, no, I don’t have a therapist. I’ve always tried going the self-help route, and feel like that path has for the most part been effective….although with this latest attack I started re-thinking that! But I’m just starting to realize how much OCD has been infiltrating my thoughts and life even when I thought it was mostly “gone.” Thanks for your advice on these questions. As I’ve been thinking, praying, and processing things through writing about them on here, I’ve come to realize that I have still been subtly allowing myself to believe my negative obsessive thoughts, and allowing them to have a little piece of my heart and mind. I’m now trying to work on recognizing that my anxiety posing as “legitimate questions” is still anxiety, and to not allow it ANY space in my mind – refusing to mull over questions or to keep myself in a state of unrest just because my anxiety says I have to!

      • Marie, if you don’t already, follow Shannon shy on Facebook or his blog. I think it will really be inspiring to you. Shannon is the president of the board for the International OCD Foundation and he’s amazing and tireless. A former Marine. 🙂 He also does peer coaching.

      • I hadn’t heard of him…thanks for the recommendation! I’m always interested in learning new good resources for OCD. I also just thought of a new question – not really related, but here goes. As I overcome OCD, I have the desire to help others with it. Do you have recommended ways to “give back,” so to speak – to bring hope to others who have it? I’ve always been into writing so I’ve often thought of book or blog writing, but the more I research, the more I find that there are already quite a lot of resources out there (like yours!). Also, I’m not necessarily at the point yet where I’m comfortable sharing that I have OCD with just anybody (only my family and close friends so far). But you are so active with helping others with OCD, I was wondering if you had any suggestions!

  2. I love how you sometimes write post about your ”old self”. It’s kinda reasuring to know that one of these day we get wiser and we learn how to take control of our illness. When we get the help! There is hope. And again, thank you for your positive post, girl. ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s