My name is Jacinta Das, and I’m a sixteen-year-old community college student. I’m passionate and curious, and I love to read and write and perform. I am currently the co-president of my college’s theater society, and a member of our ballroom dance club and psychology honor society. I’m also taking five classes and working two jobs. Although I love to learn and work hard, truthfully, I’m exhausted.
I’m a perfectionist, and perfectionism is merely a euphemism for anxiety. The stress of my life affects me—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Last semester, I developed an eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, to maintain an illusion of control over my life. I purged when I messed up—when I missed a question on a test or forgot a homework assignment, and I purged when I felt overwhelmed by my 6:30 AM bio class and hours at Yankee Candle after. As I grew more anxious, my bulimic episodes grew more intense and frequent. By January, I was throwing up nearly every day.
When I threw up food, I felt like I was throwing up perceived failures, and flushing it all down the toilet. My teeth hurt, my throat hurt, my stomach hurt. I was always fatigued, no matter how much I slept. But the relief made it worthwhile— until one Tuesday when I was too dizzy to even get out of bed. I stayed home that day reading about bulimia online and scaring myself silly. I knew I had to stop; I just didn’t know how. I knew that if it continued, I’d continue to have difficulty concentrating on the most basic tasks, and my grades would drop, and I couldn’t imagine anything worse.
My solution was to use my anxiety about grades to fuel my efforts to stop the bulimia. Unfortunately, that’s not how eating disorders work. Every time I slipped up in school, I’d relapse. Every time I relapsed, it was worse. It was a vicious cycle. A few weeks ago, I was reading about bulimia online, and I came across a Washington Post article about a 19-year-old girl who had died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by an electrolyte imbalance: the result of years of purging. I didn’t want to be her. I promised myself I would recover—even if that meant reducing my workload and letting my grades drop a letter or two. My life is worth it.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve prioritized my health above everything. I consistently sleep for nine hours each night. I eat fruits and vegetables, and make sure to get enough protein. I don’t throw up, and when I have the urge, I take a hot shower and pamper myself with body scrubs and lotions instead. I am still exhausted all the time. Surprisingly enough, my grades are close to what I want them to be. I’m a lot happier because I’m finally giving myself the love and care I need. At the end of the day, I’m still a 16-year-old college student slash society president slash lecture assistant. I slowed down, but I didn’t give up.
Now that I’m recovering, I’d like to do more. Next semester, I plan to transfer to a four-year school; I desire a challenging academic environment and the unique opportunities that a university offers. I would like to immerse myself in research, involve myself in more student associations, and at some point, study abroad. I am an ambitious, motivated student, and I am seeking an enriching college experience.
Unfortunately, tuition is expensive. Room and board is expensive. Even books are expensive. It seems the only way to make it through the four years is to work and work and work. At the same time, I love being involved in campus life. I love being involved in my community. I want to be able to explore my passions during these four critical years— and Activia’s scholarship would make it possible for me to do so.