Dear Freshman Me: Take Care of Your Brain

Written by Callahan Stoub

Dear Freshman Me, 

I hope you’ve settled in well to school so far. As the semester gains speed, you probably already have three papers due soon and feel like you’re drowning in Constitution readings. I know it’s a lot to juggle, but do me a favor and take an hour to introduce yourself to one of the counselors at Health Services. Trust me, I know you have everything under control right now and do not need someone to talk through your problems with you, but that is exactly why you should go now. Smile. Shake their hand. Get to know them before you find yourself in a dark place or dealing with relationship issues. It’s a lot easier for them to help you live your best life when they know what that looks like ahead of time. Chances are if you get through these four years without experiencing heartbreak, feeling a pit in your stomach, or facing a dilemma, you have not lived your life to the fullest. Or worse—you are in denial, and it will come back to haunt you. The quality and quantity of mental health services here are like nowhere else you will have in your life. I know you have a few reservations, so let me address some common objections:

  • Do not be afraid that you may take time away from people who need it more than you; we are in a place that cares deeply about all of its students, not just those who “have it worse than you.” If appointments start getting tight, the school will invest in hiring another counselor. 
  • Do not be afraid that the only reason people see a counselor is for depression, anxiety, or other clinical conditions. While counseling can be an essential piece of establishing mental health, many people set up appointments to talk through daily challenges or specific moments in life without any diagnoses. 
  • Do not be afraid that people will look down on you for seeking counsel. You are in a place where people look up to those who seek help. A place where people will lean in to support you and love you in your journey. This is a community. If you talk to a counselor now, you open a door of trust with your friends too. Vulnerability leads to deeper relationships; admitting that you are not perfect will take the pressure off your friends to feel the need to be perfect around you. If this is not enough to convince you, let me assure you that—because of confidentiality laws—no one will know you are going to talk to a counselor unless you tell them. 
  • Do not be afraid of admitting to yourself that you are worth talking about. This is an important lesson. I admire your humility and willingness to serve others, but you are worthy of care too. You can only pour out into others what is poured into you. You cannot care for others until you care for yourself.

I waited until senior year to take this step but wish I’d done it sooner. Not only am I more confident in my decision-making abilities, but I’ve learned how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships and created space to contemplate the major life decisions ahead of me. Overall, I feel like I live a fuller life now. Have I convinced you yet? There is really no reason not to open this door. Besides, Linda will always welcome you with a warm smile and chocolate at the front desk.

Student Callie Stoub Callie Stoub, ’21, hails from the Southwestern corner of Michigan, best known for its beaches along Lake Michigan, and studies history. When she’s not reminiscing on her time at Hillsdale, you may find her diagramming sentences for fun or experimenting with creative omelet recipes.

Published in May 2021