When thinking about college, I never thought I would become a dropout. 

In high school I received good marks, at least until my sophomore year in March 2011. Then it seemed to fall apart. My sense of duty to earn good grades disappeared. I no longer did the activities I loved. I began to hate going to school, especially if my homework wasn’t done. I would often beg my mom to let me stay home so I didn’t have to deal with the consequences of unfinished homework or lack of studying. 

I became aloof, withdrawn, and very depressed. By the time I finally made it to college, I never thought these behaviors of bottling up emotions would ever lead me to make the hard decision of leaving college.


Growing up as the only daughter of my mother, I always strived to be someone seen as worthy. I was constantly told I was going to do something worthwhile in my life; yet, my sense of self-worth and self-esteem had always been low. As a bicultural young lady of being black and Puerto Rican, I always had constant images of how black was anything but beautiful. I didn’t want to be black. This made me not happy with my skin color and the way I looked for years. I never would have guessed how heavily these feelings of unworthiness, negativity, or self-hate would take my life on a different course.

Because of my own animosity towards being black and my own assumptions that everyone thought I was ugly because of my blackness, I was always striving for love and attention from anyone in any way possible. Even negative sexual attention meant that I was beautiful and desirable. I never thought twice about misogyny or disrespect. 

I hated the last years of high school because of the constant classism, elitism, and racism I faced along with my newfound depression. I didn’t know the terms until college, but the racism and microaggressions from the students I dealt with didn’t make being happy in my skin any easier. Nor did it help when I found myself becoming more and more depressed.


Fast forward to college, and I was excited. It’s a new environment; I get to be by myself, and best of all, I scored a double bedroom to myself. I never had a roommate all throughout college. Talk about lucky!

My freshman year started off trying to fit in, crushing on boys, and figuring out which classes to take. Of course, I definitely was excited about meeting different types of boys. Any new environment I was in, I was always looking for cute guys. I was friendly with everyone that seemed interesting or attractive. 

On my first orientation day, a guy I thought was cute said to me, “Rebekah is a weird name for a black girl.” Hearing this made me defensive and my simple response was, “I’m also Puerto Rican.” At the time, I didn’t know that those comments of “you’re pretty for a black girl,” or “you’re not like other black people,” were examples of microaggressions. I always felt they were wrong, but never knew how to express them to anyone. I still attempted to be nice to people like him.

Being constantly at battle with my self-image as a Black Puerto Rican didn’t help with school. What started off as my determination to be a good student, do my homework on time and study, soon fell into old patterns where I found myself getting behind academically like I did in high school. 

Out of three classes, I was the only black student in two of them: my prerequisite class and my German class. In classes, a lot of people did not seem to speak to me much. They were polite, but not friendly enough to help me feel welcomed and not feel different. I got the highest marks in my German class, yet not many people wanted to be my partner.


Towards the end of my first semester of college, I started to like this guy I met during fencing. He was a very sweet white guy from South Dakota. At first, he took me out with his friends a few times. I decided I really liked him and talked to him a lot. We kissed, and it was the first time in my young life I ever kissed someone I had a crush on. My heart fluttered, and it felt amazing. A week after the kiss though, he tells me he recently broke up with his girlfriend and he didn’t want a relationship. It broke my heart. I internalized it. I felt I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough because I was black. So, I tried to become a good person to his friends so he would feel guilty about leaving someone as nice as me.

Winter term we stop talking completely and he never gave me a reason why. He just stopped talking to me. It made me extremely depressed, and I stopped doing my work, showing up to class, lost sleep, and there was always trouble going on at home. I didn’t have much support, and I started hating my blackness and blaming it more and more.

Fast forward to spring term of my freshman year, I remember distinctively thinking about racism and why I constantly felt not good enough because of my skin color. I remember breaking down, crying hysterically, and asking God why the world is like this; why do people hate me because I’m black? Why am I seen as not good enough? Why can’t I love myself? After crying and talking to another black girl about it, I was determined to learn more about accepting my blackness and loving myself. I became involved in Tumblr, following blogs that preached self-love, black is beautiful, and positive things about blackness. I learned so much about the history of blacks and everything just seemed to be better.

I was finally starting to love my blackness.

Fast forward to my sophomore year, and I am absolutely on fire. I am involved in fighting the racism on campus. I am getting the best grades yet. 


Winter term my sophomore year would prove to be the most challenging time in my young life.

I met a new foreign exchange student during the fall term of my sophomore year. He was charming, sophisticated, and was interested in social justice. He claimed to be a strong feminist and pro black. I believed him. He messaged me on Facebook before we returned from winter break, telling me what a shame it was that the guy I liked didn’t pursue me. A part of me became interested in him. It wasn’t long before I felt as if I was completely mesmerized by everything he did. I felt so drawn to him. He was so smart, so wise, so persistent. I lost my virginity to him. I would only think about him and be around him.

I wanted to be with him. Once I expressed that to him, he changed. He became cold, constantly gas lighted me, invalidated me, made me feel inferior. I didn’t realize until now that I fell for a sociopath. I stopped going to classes all together, stopped doing homework, and barely ate. 

Soon, he replaced me with a girl I thought was my friend. He would spend time holding her hand, being in public with her. But when he was with me, it seemed like I was always a secret. He never went out in public with me. Because I shared all my first sexual experiences with this guy, I felt extremely used and disposable. I constantly tormented myself with the thought I wasn’t good enough; he used me so he could say he had sex with a black girl; he felt and proved, like the world had, that black women were a commodity and once used and sexualized, they were disposable. I started cutting my arms constantly. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t leave my room or eat. I missed so many of my classes that my suitemates became worried. I constantly hid so I would reduce my chances of running into this couple on the small campus.

He made me unsure of myself, made me feel I was wrong for being hurt. Hell, he even gave me an STD and told me I got it from someone else, even though he was the only one I ever had sexual encounters with. I spent so many nights crying, because I felt so used and unworthy; I wasn’t good enough. I cut off contact from family and friends and kept secluding myself. I became suicidal; I thought about how much I wanted to end my life and end this pain of betrayal. 

He threw me away like a toy. When he told me we were okay and that he cared for me, I walked in on him sleeping with her. I ran to my dorm and cried so much. I was invalidated and broken.


By the time it was spring term, I decided to get help from the school counselor.  I saw her once a week, because I couldn’t take the pain anymore. It still hurts to think about it. Once the extreme sense of sadness left, all I felt was anger. I had complete, violent rage. I didn’t want to see him or her ever; yet it was impossible to avoid them because of the small campus. I had supportive friends, but my thoughts were only about him and her, and it made functioning nearly impossible. I lost so much weight and was failing classes. All I could talk about was them and my hurt and sense of betrayal. I lost a few friends because of it. I had PTSD-like symptoms and couldn’t properly function.

I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I decided I was going to end it. I didn’t know how, but I wanted to stop living. I needed to know what my goodbye letter was going to say. But I couldn’t do it. I kept thinking how sad my mother and grandmother would be. I was in so much pain, but I couldn’t even end myself, because I was worried how it would affect others. I decided I would seek out therapy during my break because I wanted to get better.

I did get better, but I didn’t want to go back to the place where I almost took my life. I decided getting a therapy dog would help. It didn’t. I was told that the sociopath wouldn’t be attending the school anymore; he did. My apartment ended up being across the street from his dorm. I tried to do my schoolwork, but I couldn’t focus. I was taking medication and it was helping, but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stay at the school and walk past the buildings where I was in constant pain. I still remembered it. I hated the thought of going back.


Three-weeks into my junior year, I withdrew from college. It was such a hard decision. Even though I got accepted to study abroad in Germany (a huge dream of mine), was the Diversity Chair Leader in student senate, and was in so many clubs and held leadership roles, I still made the decision to leave. I wasn’t strong enough to stay; but at the same time, I felt I was strong enough to leave. I put my health first.

Honestly, as I’m writing this, I was supposed to graduate in May 2017. Time has gone by so fast and I’ve grown so much. I want to finish college and earn my degree. It’s a challenge because of money, which I constantly struggle with, but we will see where life takes me. I can’t and won’t give up.

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