How My HCC Professor Helped Me Gain Perspective
I struggled with my depression during my first college semester at Hillsborough Community College (HCC). I did not join any clubs and isolated myself from everyone. I would go home as soon as my classes ended and avoided all social interactions as much as possible. Yet, I questioned why I was having trouble making friends.
The answer should have been clear to me, but I still asked. I questioned whether I was the problem. Was I not funny enough? Interesting enough? Was I a boring person? Did I dress weird? I quickly gave up trying to make friends, decided I was better off alone, and focused my attention on my studies.
What’s your cheese?
Psychology was my favorite class at HCC that semester because my professor was very welcoming and funny. On a warm April evening, he said something that permanently altered how I viewed people and my relationships with them.
He started the lesson by asking everyone what their favorite kind of cheese was. Naturally, those who answered, gave different responses. “Just as you all in here like different cheeses, every single person on earth has a different cheese about them.” He continued, claiming that "cheese" was an analogy for a side of a person's personality that we may gravitate toward.
Using me as an example, he highlighted that my “cheese” might be that I am a good listener, but I struggle to express my emotions. In contrast, another person's “cheese” may be that they are great communicators about how they are feeling, but they fall short of just listening to others when they talk. At that moment, I could feel my eyes light up! It was as if the universe was handing me the answers I needed on a beautifully made charcuterie board.
What I needed to do
As a computer science major, I was never happier to have taken psychology. Now I had to reflect. I got the answer I was searching for the entire semester, but how would I put it to good use? This analogy didn't give me the incentive to ignore people when they didn't meet my expectations, nor did it mean I had to stay with people I felt uncomfortable around to keep them as friends. So what should I do?
Simply stated, I should accept people for who they are, recognize the traits I admire and dislike, and don't put too many expectations on them because, often, they won't meet them. And as simple as that should have been, it didn't work out to be that way.
What was going on with me
It took five more months for me to re-evaluate my relationships and think about the decisions I have made so far at HCC. I realized I never gave the people I engaged with a fair chance. I pushed them away when they failed to meet the standard that I set for them, because I felt they needed to fit into my life rather than me in theirs. So, to lessen these guilty feelings, I worked on changing my mindset.
My insecurities were the biggest factor in my reaction to others. The green mask of jealousy would rear its head whenever I saw people being happy with their friends. I believed that because I didn't like myself, no one else did either. It took me longer than I would like to confess to learning to love who I was, the way I was.
What I needed
Eventually, I was content without needing other people's approval or engaging in pointless talks to feel like I belonged somewhere. Complimenting myself more replaced comparing myself with others. And little by little, I started smiling more.
To some, this way of interacting with others should be obvious, and I am ashamed that I may have unintentionally hurt those I disregarded. However, I am proud of myself for learning this analogy and making friendships this semester. Conversations feel light and being myself has never been easier. I have not figured it all out yet and am still learning. But I know I'm meant to be where I am in life right now.
Thank you, Professor Drew, for that cheesy lesson.
|Jillian Ireland from Jamaica is studying cyber security at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida.|
Check Out These Schools
Start your U.S. adventure with Study in the USA
Learn About U.S. education financing, housing, and more
TestDEN's Online TOEFL Test Prep is just what you need to quickly and effectively prepare for the TOEFL test. Since 1998, TestDEN has helped tens of thousands of students raise their TOEFL scores.
MPOWER Financing is the top-rated lender offering international student loans without cosigners, collateral, or credit history for global citizens, PLUS international student scholarships & career coaching! Fully online application, 96% customer...
Join over 6 million people and businesses who get a better deal when they send money with the real exchange rate.
Learn about American culture and education direct from our experts at Study in the USA. Read more