Remember when Forrest Gump ran across the entire country and the reason he gave was, “I just felt like running,” even though it was really due to the fact Jenny left him? That was him literally running away from his problems.
I, on the other hand, do so metaphorically -- or, at least, I used to.
This bad habit of mine began when I was around 8 years old. Whenever my parents would argue, I would put in headphones and dive into a book.
Even if the fight was serious and required my thought, I would always ignore it.
As I got older, I would do things like skip school after getting in a fight with a friend, go to booze-filled parties to forget about an unrequited crush, quit a job due to any slight tension with coworkers and whatever else.
It got to the point where I wasn’t just avoiding my problems, but essentially my emotions as well. I acted like I didn’t care about anything to avoid feeling anything.
When I got to college, I thought a fresh start would help fix my problem (even when running off to school to start over was problematic in itself).
Of course, things only got worse.
Living in a 15x15 room with another person drove me insane.
Not only would I stay somewhere else or even make the drive home for the night when we were fighting, but I’d also make an effort to stay on campus or pick up extra shifts at work if she was just getting on my nerves.
Though, in this case, I was still physically distancing myself from her, I was doing this even more so mentally.
I let go of the thought of ever trying to build a friendship because I didn’t want to deal with any of it. Additionally, I was just genuinely unhappy at the school I had chosen.
Naturally, my runner’s mentality kicked in, and I began filling out applications for colleges on the other side of the country. Even though I had just been granted one, I was desperate for another fresh start. To me, this was going to solve all of my problems.
But everything hit me one day while I was checking my bank statement and my grades (two of a college student’s worst fears).
I had around five charges for application fees from a variety of schools, an excessive amount of gas dues from driving home all the time and grades that were way below my potential.
I’m not going to lie and say I had some sort of epiphany in that moment because I didn’t. However, after this, I really started to see how damaging my behavior was.
I was almost finished with my freshman year of college and I had been making myself miserable. What I didn’t realize was that in order to be happy, I had to stop ignoring my sadness.
Throughout the last couple of weeks of school, I made an attempt to fix what I had been avoiding. I made an effort to talk to my roommate more, and actually spent time in my dorm.
Instead of continuing to look for other colleges, I met with my advisor to discuss a new route for my major, as well as things to get involve with that I’d enjoy.
Although I surely didn’t end with all A's, I worked hard to bring my grades up as much as possible before finals. Additionally, I started to recognize that some of the friendships I made throughout the year were suffering because of my emotional detachment.
I had met some great people, but because I was always so distant, those relationships couldn’t grow like they should’ve.
Nonetheless, I still reached out to people and made an effort to maintain different friendships.
As a result of actually confronting what was going on in my life, I ended up renting an apartment with a friend from school, maintaining the GPA I needed for my major, made a friend out of my roommate and started making time to do more of what I love.
While it may be difficult to deal with your problems or emotions, you’re only going to help yourself out in the long run.
Sure, you can go out and drink yourself into forgetting about something, but you’re only going to wake up with everything still the same, just with a hangover.