You Belong Here

When most people think about going off to college they think of the things they see in the movies, like freedom and partying with friends. But leaving home for college is not that simple for everyone. First generation students that have grown up with active roles in their families don’t have the privilege of embracing independence and especially not at institutions that don’t always have their best interest in mind. Our peer educator, Nuria, talks about her experience being a first-generation student and shares some words of wisdom in this reflection.

You Belong Here

By: Nuria Villanueva

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This is a personal narrative and a reflection on my struggles as a first-generation college student. Often times, it is easy to feel like I do not belong at a university this prestigious. I am the first in my entire family (e.g. siblings and cousins included) to attend a university. I feel the pressure of being an ideal student from all sides of my family, not just my parents. I am portrayed as a role model for my siblings, and all my cousins. The way I see it, the way I carry myself at school and around my professors is not just a reflection of who I am, but of who my family members are. I am representing my entire family.

My future is not my own. When I think of my future I take into consideration everyone that would be affected by my choices. Is my major right? Will the skills I get here prepare me for a job that pays enough for me to sustain my family members? Is this or that enough for them? I have had conversations like this with close friends who often tell me that the role I was given is unfair, but how do you explain that this is not a burden?

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I often question my accomplishments. Do I deserve this? Is this right? Will I mess this up? Was this handed to me? What folks need to understand about first-generation students is most of us are family-oriented. Our accomplishments are theirs. Our struggles are theirs. This journey that we call higher education is one that we face alone, but we carry the expectations and pressure of many. We were never taught to be individualistic.

We are here to stay. We will make this institution ours. We are the future. Treat us with respect.

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Boundaries and Ways to Establish Them

The CAPS Peer Education Program is currently putting together a new workshop on healthy relationships that we hope to add to our current three workshops that we offer! In the process of assembling this project we’ve discussed a lot about boundaries and how they can vary from person to person as well as based on types of relationships. In this post, Reil talks about some of the ways that boundaries are defined and how you can establish your own boundaries.

Boundaries and Ways to Establish Them

By: Sareil ‘Reil’ Brookins

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The very thing that keeps me from overwhelming, overextending, and overworking myself.  What are boundaries? Not the literal physical boundaries of buildings or rooms. More so boundaries as described below, all of which are essentially the same thing, just stated differently.

  • Emotional and physical space between you and another person
  • Established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being which you expect others to respect in their relationship with you.
  • Healthy emotional and physical distance you can maintain between you and another so that you do not become overly trapped and/or dependent.
  • Appropriate amount of emotional and physical closeness you need to maintain so that you and another do not become too detached and/or overly independent.

You may think that implementing boundaries is as easy as 1, 2, and 3. However, it is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are suggested steps as to how to establish boundaries. Here we go.

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Step 1: Identify the symptoms of your boundaries currently being or having been violated or ignored.

Step 2: Identify the irrational or unhealthy thinking and beliefs by which you allow your boundaries to be ignored or violated.

Step 3: Identify new, more rational, healthy thinking and beliefs which will encourage you to change your behaviors so that you build healthy boundaries between you and others.

Step 4: Identify new behaviors you need to add to your healthy boundary building behaviors repertoire in order to sustain healthy boundaries between you and others.

Step 5: Implement the healthy boundary building beliefs and behaviors in your life so that your space, privacy and rights are no longer ignored or violated.

Working on setting and honoring boundaries will do more good than harm at the end of the day. It may seem hard at first, but your mental, emotional, physical and overall wellness is more important.

Source: http://www.jsc.edu/StudentLife/CounselingServices/documents/Developing-Healthy-Boundaries.pdf.

The Pressure’s Off

CAPS Peer Educator Emma Burke shares her experience of navigating a relationship during the transition to college. Read on to see what she has to say!

THE PRESSURE’S OFF
With everything we hear from our favorite TV shows, movies, and even music, it’s easy to begin thinking that by the time we get to college, we need to be in a serious relationship. College is where everyone finds their partner, right? Well, maybe not so right. According to The Daily Dot, only twenty-eight percent of married college graduates actually met their spouses during college while attending the same University (Klee). What does this tell us? College is where we come to grow into well-rounded adults. Do we like surfing? Do we enjoy tofu or steak? Do we want to travel, and if so, where do we want to go? Each one of us has to answer these questions for ourselves, and we have limitless opportunities to do so! There is no reason why we can’t find our partner along the way, but there’s also no pressure to be on the hunt for our soulmate before we find out what we actually want in one. And the most important thing to keep in mind is that if we feel the pressure to find a partner, we may be more likely to “plug someone in” instead of finding someone we truly want in our lives. Overlooking someone’s faults in an attempt to fulfill one’s societal duties can lead to unhealthy relationships and unhappiness.

Continue reading

Losing Somebody You Love – Advice for How to Cope

CAPS Peer Educator Hilaria Barajas shares her personal experiences with the grieving process and offers advice on dealing with this difficult situation.

DEALING WITH THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE

By Hilaria Barajas

The loss of a loved one can be a very painful and confusing time. Whether it come predicted or not, when a loved one passes sometimes you feel as if your whole world has come to a pause. There is never a right or wrong way to deal with death. There are different stages of the grieving process and you might not experience all the stages. That‘s ok. It is important to remember that everyone goes through their own personal grieving process at their own time, and there is no “right” way to grieve.

My mother passed away when I was 17 and I was a senior in high school. She had been dealing with diabetes since I was born but she was strong. Although she had some rough times in and out of hospital because of her sickness she still seemed unfazed and continued to dedicate herself to her family. However, November 7th, 2012 was the last day she would be able to continue with her incredible strength and passed away from a stroke.

Everything after her death kind of went in a giant blur. This is where my grieving began and I entered one of the many stages of the grieving process: disbelief and confusion. At the time, everything seemed unreal and I felt disconnected to reality. I would later find out that these are very normal feelings to deal with after the death of a loved one. It is a sudden change to have someone so close to you gone so quickly. It felt as if she was just on a much-needed vacation or visiting family in Mexico. Continue reading

Mental Illness and the Model Minority Myth

Discussing Mental Health in Asian American Families

By Grace Shefcik

CAPS Peer Educator Grace Shefcik shares her personal experiences with mental illness and her perspective on how to discuss issues related to mental health within the Asian American community.
The first time I spoke to my mom about mental illness, she seemed uncomfortable. I knew it was a topic she was not well versed in, but regardless of how much I tried to familiarize her, the best I could get was her support for me to go to therapy.

Through time, her perception seemed to shift. At first, her ability to succeed and live a happy life despite major difficulties made my problems appear to not hold enough merit to lead to a mental illness. I grew up in a stable home, did not have to flee the country, only had to focus on one language, and overall, I had the opportunity to devote my life to school without major barriers. What was there to be upset about? She routinely expressed this not only to me, but to my therapist and father, who eventually showed her that mental illness does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what you have been through. Pain is subjective. What I experienced is very similar to what other Asian American and 1st/2nd generational families have – the pressure and expectation of being the “Model Minority.”

Members of the model minority are expected to be smart (particularly good at math and science), wealthy, obedient, self-reliant, and most glaringly – immune to mental illness. Not only does one’s family or culture create this picture, but the media also perpetuates these ideas.  These can all be healthy things to strive for, but if the pressure of one’s family or culture becomes too much, especially when one can’t adhere to the expectations, it can take a major toll. Potentially, the negative impact can be large enough that admitting this model is not you or that you need help can be humiliating, often resulting in anger and/or denial from yourself and others. Continue reading

Slugs Against Sexual Assault

Have you noticed teal ribbons around campus this month? They’re to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which happens every April. Preventing and supporting survivors of sexual assault is an important part of my work at CAPS, and we are grateful to partner with our downstairs neighbors at SHOP to support this mission. Today, SAFE at SHOP intern Erica West shares some information on what you can do to help prevent sexual assault at UCSC and in our communities.

Working Together To End Sexual Assault

Teal Ribbon for Sexual Assault Awareness Monthby Erica West

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and SAFE (Sexual Assault Facts and Education) wants to take this time to spread awareness and support those who have experienced sexual assault. At SAFE we define sexual assault as any unwanted sex act that is attempted or committed without the other person’s consent. Sexual assault is not something we talk about often in our society and so sometimes it may feel like it is a rare occurrence. However 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, sexual assault is also one of the most underreported crimes and so statistics can often be difficult to find and verify. Why do so many people not report their sexual assaults? Continue reading