This morning I was staring at the criss-cross patterns on my window pane dreaming about my future. I am 19 years old. Home now after one year of college, Ive finally found time to reflect on the mental and emotional strains of school. You might ask what in the world a 19 year old has to worry about but then, you dont know me. Im always worried yet, a few years back, my type of worrying seemed good. I mean, I was a straight A student in High school. I graduated with AP and IB credit and I got into one of the leading universities in the country but this past year, my worrying became compulsive. I worried that I couldnt make the grades to get into a good medical school so I studied till 2 or 3am every night. I worried that my parents might not be able to afford the private school I go to so I worked 20 hours a week. I worried that my teachers and peers might not see me as a good person (you know, the one everyone wants to write recommendations for) so finally, I worried myself into such a frenzy that I dared to cheat on an exam. Well thats not quite true. I didnt cheat on the actual exam. I altered my answers after I got the exam back but its the same thing. Somehow, in the back of my mind, a B on a chemistry test just wasnt good enough. Of course, I was caught and I willingly paid the price because the guilt was just too much to bear but what made me turn this way? What made me start thinking of myself as numbers and letter on a piece of paper instead of the person I use to be? Well, if you are one of those people who think Im stupid and overreacted, youre wrong. The whole catastrophic event built up slowly and Im only sharing this in the vain hope that no one else will go down this road. Lets start from my childhood. I was born and raised in Beijing, China; an over-congested city with buildings touching each other. My parents immigrated to the US when I was three and I grew up with my grandparents. Even at a young age, I felt pressure to make something of myself because all my family seemed to live vicariously through me. Every time I received a present, I remember my relatives telling me that no thanks are necessary because when I grow up, I could repay them. At the age of eight, I came to the United States but this country wasnt what I dreamt it would be. English came hard for me and even then, I couldnt bear failure yet when my parents divorced, I had to face failure head on. For a long time I lived with my mother in a rundown house that took all my effort to clean. Now, to those out there that love your mother, I envy you because somewhere along my short lifespan, that precious maternal bond broke and my mother stopped loving me. She got remarried, had another kid and I was left looking down a road that led to a high school diploma at best because thats what she told me. Thankfully, when I turned 11, the courts overturned their custody ruling and I was allowed to live with my dad. From day one in my fathers house, I had vowed to be the best daughter he could have because I was scared he might change as well. Thus, when high school hit, I did everything debate, mock trail, national honors society, etc. I was named most intelligent in my graduating class and I went on to college with the confidence that I can be anything I want. Ha ha. Little did I know that college would prove to be extremely difficult. I was far away from home and it was the first time since I moved in with my dad that I had to fend for myself so emotionally, it was traumatizing. I dont party, I dont drink, and I dont have means to get off campus so I basically depended on the people I lived with for emotional and social support. At 19, however, your dorm mates arent the most reliable people in the world. Plus, I got caught up in the premed track. Ive always wanted to be a doctor and I still do but I got stressed over what classes to take when; what GPA I must have to get into a good medical school; what activities I should do to boost up that all-important resume; and whether its better or not to follow the mainstream and get a B.S. in Biological Sciences or pursue some unknown passion in the vein hopes of standing out in an applicant pool. I think I must have called home at least once per week that first semester crying to my dad because things just wasnt going my way. Even with my familys support, by second semester, I sunk into depression. The people I loved didnt even understand the extent of my mental and physical deprivation and when I told them what I had done towards the end of second semester, they were so shocked that it was almost impossible for me to bear. By then, I was sleeping three to four hours per night and eating maybe one or at most two meals per day. I didnt know how to stop myself so in a way, Im thankful that the events of my life havent led to anything worse. I am lucky though. My advisors understood, my professor understood, and even my parents understood. Today, I still find it hard to stop worrying but Im trying to slow down and put my life back into perspective. I have so many hopes and dreams but to my colleagues out there, I hope you can put your dreams aside for a few minutes each day to enjoy the time you have now. After all, perhaps you could learn from my mistakes as Im desperately trying to now.