"During the second semester of my first year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in her life. She was one of my main supporters, and when she passed away 13 months later, the initial grief made me feel incredibly desolate. I was hoping she would see me at my future convocation. I remember at the time, and even now, getting so frustrated when I could not control my emotions or my mind (as someone who is essentially studying the ins-and-outs of it in my degree). Three years later, there are still tough days where the thought of even opening my eyes to get out of bed, let alone pick up my laptop and do my school work, just seems like an impossible task. But with the support of my friends, my family, and the open-hearted people within the SFU community (both in student services and within the faculties), I have been able to maintain resiliency and overcome the challenges of starting a future career. I feel incredibly humbled to have made the friendships and professional relationships I have so far.
To me, resilience means knowing when it is healthy (and unhealthy) to push your limits, in order to bounce back from an impasse in your life. When going through major life events, you may never go back to your “normal self” before the incident. But by learning your limits and finding that resiliency, you will eventually come out of the situation with newfound strengths.
My advice to students facing challenges is that you're stronger than you think you are, even at your lowest moment. There is no shame in reaching out for help, even if you think people won’t know what to say. Trust and vulnerability can do wonders for your relationships. And when it comes to trying to seek professional help, it can be disheartening to be turned away from therapy services, either due to long waitlists or high fees. But there's something - someone - out there who can and will help you. Don’t give up."
Shirin Pedram is a fourth-year Behavioral Neuroscience Student at SFU.
This post was originally posted on the SFU Psychology Instagram on May 24, 2022.