Hi my name is Avonae and today I’m going to tell you about an experience I had earlier this year. In the middle of my semester with 3 midterms and 2 assignments due. I found out that my dad had been diagnosed with cancer.

My world fell apart. Deep down I knew it was out of my control and I just needed to focus on the semester, but I simply couldn’t. Every time I took a moment to think, in lecture, during the midterms, my mind would swarm with fear and I felt crippling anxiety.

My drive to do well evaporated in the face of the uncertainty of my dad’s life. For the first time in my academic career, I felt helpless and alone. My turning point was one morning in STC right before my midterm, looking over cue cards, I couldn’t read them because my eyes were tearing up so much. I reached out to counselling…UW counselling services. I’d never done that before but I learned about it through Co-op. That day I spoke with a counsellor that helped to put some things into perspective. Things were still difficult afterwards but I never felt alone …or I no longer felt alone. Over time, I learned to focus on the things that were under my control and to remain optimistic about things that weren’t. This experience introduced me to the supportive services provided by University of Waterloo but most importantly, taught me that I didn’t have to maintain the stereotypical hard shell exterior. It’s okay to seek help, especially when you’re hurting. It’s okay, and it’s normal and you don’t have to go through it alone. 

- Avonae Gentles 

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