By Satarra Johnson-Kidd
When I was 18 years old, I moved to Oahu, Hawaii to pursue my education. I’m not going to lie. It felt good to make such a drastic move. It was also kind of scary. Most people wouldn’t think of moving to a secluded island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when they’re a teenager.
A lot of people where I’m from usually go to the same Universities around the area. Being from the Washington, DC area, the schools around us are amazing and very prestigious but I always wanted something more. I always thought outside the box. I wanted something different from Northern Virginia. I wanted something different from Washington, DC, and Maryland. Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) was the perfect school for me because the tuition fee was reasonable, and Hawaii seemed like the perfect way to escape from the DMV (Washington, DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia). So that’s what I did, when I turned 18, I was off to my dream university in Honolulu.
My first year at HPU did not go anywhere as I expected. The first mistake that I made was giving my time and energy to a boy that did not deserve it – but he was a learning experience. On top of that, in my first semester, I had three people die in my family. I think this really hurt me because I wasn’t there for their funerals. To go through such pain alone was excruciating. Having to deal with a person who was mentally and physically draining and dealing with the loss of my family was too much for me. I started eating a lot to deal with it. I know it sounds crazy, but food is something that always made me happy. I ended up gaining 40 pounds during my first semester. (Instead of the freshman 15, I had the freshman 40). With all this going on, it was so hard to focus on school, so my grades ended up dropping extremely low.
By the time I returned back to Northern Virginia to visit my family for Christmas break, I felt like I was a complete failure to them. My parents had sacrificed so much just to send me to school in Hawaii. I decided not to tell them about my first semester because I felt like telling them about it would only make them feel ashamed of me. I remember crying every night about how badly I had messed up my first semester. I remember praying and asking God to make sure that parents would not find out about my grades, or the things that my ex-boyfriend had put me through. Every night, I would replay my first semester in my mind and try to come up with possible solutions to make everything better. I never came up with anything, until New Years.
I remember new years eve of 2017. We were counting down until midnight, and I started thinking that even though my first semester was completely garbage, I still made it. I had made it. In spite of everything, I was still here. It was as if something in my mind clicked and this energy just rushed through my body. I knew that I was going to be ok. I decided that night, on New Year’s eve, that I would make my second semester a lot better. I told myself that I was going to do whatever it takes to lose the weight, bring my grades up, and get to the confident woman that I know I can be.
My second semester came, and I had moved back to Hawaii. I needed to put myself back together. I started working out every day. I was going to tutoring every other day. I decided to remain single and go to therapy. I told myself that my happiness was my first priority and that’s what I need to focus on. During my second semester, the only thing that I was concerned about was to be happy again.
When women read this story, I want them to read it and not feel bad. The last thing that I want is a pity-party for me (especially because I’m doing a lot better now), I want people to read my story and feel inspired. I want women to know that if you give your time to someone who didn’t deserve it, you’re way better off without him. I want women to know that in life, you are going to mess up and it’s ok. You’re not a failure. All you have to do is pick yourself back up and try again. You’re number one priority in life is to make yourself happy. Sometimes you are going to have to take a break to start over, and that’s fine.
Satarra is an International Business Major minoring in Spanish in Hawaii Pacific University and spends her time traveling and learning about business and cultures around the world. She is the owner and founder of two organisations, namely The Young Minority Professionals Association and Future Business Leaders of Hawaii. She started the year as an intern at Women for Women in Washington D.C.
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