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Q: When Will I Find the Time For Love?
This has been my first few months living away from my parents, and they really haven’t turned out like I hoped they would.
When I lived at home, I had to hide my sexuality, so much so that I missed out on love and dating. If my father found out I was gay, god knows what would have happened. I couldn’t risk it, as much as it killed me. I still feel like I missed out on important experiences because of that.
I’ve now moved away from home, have some freedom. Unfortunately, this is not happening. It my first year of college, and I have a ridiculous workload. No exaggeration, almost every day get up at eight, start working on school work/going to class by nine, keep working to 12-12:30 am, eat supper at one, do chores till three or four in the morning, get to sleep and get up the next morning to do it all over again.
It was crazy. I had to make every personal sacrifice – my social life, my health (I couldn’t go to the gym and I’ve been eating only take-out for two months now), and my free time.
I feel horrible for complaining, I know people go through these sorts of ordeals all the time, and it last long, but I’m not a strong person.
I feel emotionally drained. I bust into tears every day. I feel so alone. I get my work in and get good grades, but other then that I’m falling apart.
The thing that’s upset me the most, is having to yet again throw my romantic pursuits in the trash again. I’m really embarrassed that, out of everything, this is what’s upsetting me the most about my situation.
It seems stupid, but I am just so lonely. I’m so sexually and romantically frustrated at this point, I’m going to explode.
I feel isolated, and have no one to turn to. On the surface everyone thinks I’m doing so well, but deep down I’m not.
Reader, I’m going to reiterate a point that I’m sure you’ve already figured out on your own: You have to make time for your personal and social life. This can understandably be difficult with your work load (I’m a workaholic who works from home – trust me, I know!) but it’s important that you take time for yourself, in whatever way you can fit it in. Otherwise, the cycle of frustration and drain will only worsen.
One way you might be able to fit in time, without sacrificing your school work, would be to find a way to combine your health and social lives into one. For example, join a gym or a team. It might be a stereotype, but joining a sports team (softball, tennis – you know, “lesbian sports”) could help you find someone, at least as a friend. I know that’s not your big concern right now, but I feel that it’s best that you start a relationship as friends and let it develop naturally from there.
Does your campus have some type of queer group? This is also a good place to meet friends and romantic partners. While I was in college, I was involved with my school’s “Pride Club”, and I met a few great people, many of which I’m still friends with even though I have moved away from that city. Typically, clubs like this will meet infrequently, and you are under no obligation to attend these meetings, so you can schedule them in when you have the time and just skip it when you don’t.
Online dating could be an option for you as well. Not only are we more comfortable being honest when “hidden” behind a screen, but it also makes it easier to interact on our own time. Many dating sites will let you cater your search preferences to things that matter to you, and we even have a list of online dating resources that are great for the lesbian community (see here). While online dating should not replace all social interaction, it can be a convenient and relatively safe way to meet new people. (Please also see our Easy Online Lesbian Dating Guide.)
Now for an unpopular opinion: If you need to take the occasional “mental health day” (a day off from school or work, that is not officially approved by your school’s administration or your employer), take one! You mentioned that you have good grades, so an occasional day off is not likely to break your academic record.
The school system is not inherently set up to encourage good mental health, and in many cases it can be the cause of mental health crises. Please, reader, don’t let this happen to you. I don’t encourage taking a day off every week, or anything like that, but if you’re feeling too burned out, you’re less effective in the classroom anyway, so giving yourself a break every now and then can actually improve your grades, as long as you’re not missing anything important.
Many professors implement a policy where late work is given a lower grade automatically – I know one of my old professors assigned a 10% penalty for each class date that an assignment was late. In this case, taking an extra day to clear your mind may allow you to earn a 100% – which, with the penalty, would come up to 90% – still an A. On the other hand, if you force yourself through it and do work that is not your best, you may be getting lower than a 90% anyway. Your exact results will vary depending on your teachers’ policies, but if you are otherwise doing well in your classes, and you take care to not miss any important tests or deadlines, a little break won’t be the end of the world.
You must think of your health, because chances are no one else is going to value it for you. You must be your own advocate here. You’d take a day off for your physical health, right? Your mental health should be no different.
I truly hope that my advice has given you some ideas to work with. Now it’s up to you to decide which tips you can implement and which to ignore – not every solution works for everyone, as every situation is different. The good news is that these tips can be used in combination for most people, so you are free to find what works best for you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and let me know which you tried, and what your results were. Take care of yourself, reader – you deserve it!