Jack was born on Mother’s Day, and he has always felt like a personal gift to me. He has a servant’s heart and an easy manner. His spirit and intellect are as deep as any well that has ever been dug. Jack is also so much fun. He is quite the traveler and outdoorsman. We like to kayak together, and he has introduced our family to Settlers of Catan. This fall he will be returning to Appalachian State University as a sophomore business major. He likes to help people, is committed to his faith, is kind, smart, and hardworking. He is our youngest son and we could not be more proud of him.
During his freshman year in college, he started having some chest pains which caused us some concern. It turned out to be a physical manifestation of anxiety. I hope his experience will help others manage their anxiety too.
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College is a beast. You prepare and prepare, but when the time comes to leave home, you realize you don’t necessarily know what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s a beautiful moment, leaving home. You realize the world is big and the opportunities are endless. You meet new people from all over the country and all over the world. You realize how small your high school was, and you begin to branch out.
Leaving home is like a bird leaving the nest for the first time. You hope you fly, but first, you’re going to have to fall for a while, hoping your wings will do what they were designed to do.
My college experience might be different than yours. I decided to abandon the familiarity of home and the in-state university, and I found myself six hours away in the beautiful town of Boone, North Carolina at Appalachian State University. I barely knew anyone, but I knew it was the place for me. I fell in love with the small-town community and the endless sea of opportunities that came with the university.
Growing up in a house full of entrepreneurs, I was excited to begin my own ventures. I quickly found myself saying yes to all sorts of awesome opportunities, and my schedule filled to the brim.
I went into college knowing I wanted to get experience in digital marketing, so I set aside a couple hours per week outside of my course curriculum. I ran the Instagram account for a coffee shop on campus. I developed a new website for a local boutique store, as well as an advertising campaign consisting of audio, video, and print ads.
Then I realized I needed to make some money, so I got a job working 10 hours per week at a coffee shop.
My friend in Knoxville started a company auctioning vintage UTK apparel on Instagram, so me and my roommate decided to start an App State franchise of his company, In With The Old.
I joined a small group through a campus ministry that met on Tuesday nights, we had a large group on Wednesday nights, and I also joined a church community group on Thursday nights. And I started working out 3-5 times per week.
I came to the same school as my long-time girlfriend, so I spent my free time with her, as well as the new friends I was making. All while going to class 15 hours per week and trying to stay on top of my grades.
After a few months, I began to feel pains in my chest. I went to the doctor and she said it was a physical result of my anxiety and was linked to my busy schedule. I knew I needed to make changes, but I couldn’t just quit everything I was doing, so I started utilizing more frequently the tools available to me.
I started meditating a few times a day to clear my mind. I drank less coffee, more water, and ate foods that were actually good for me.
Those things helped a lot, but honestly, the biggest difference came when I started using my weighted blanket. Due to my busy schedule, my mind would race at night. I couldn’t get it to stop thinking days, weeks, months, and years ahead about the projects I was working on. Whenever I couldn’t stop thinking, I would put on my weighted blanket and go right to sleep. My weighted blanket helped me get to sleep quicker, and it helped me sleep deeper so that I had more energy throughout my busy days.
Learning that busyness, coffee and lack of sleep contribute to anxiety has helped me to slow my life down and live a calmer life.
*Dorm picture from Pinterest.