“I’m such a failure. My grades are falling apart. I feel so alone.”

This was me, sobbing my heart out at 10 p.m. in the deans’ office on that chilly October night.

Why was this happening? I knew I was having some mental health issues; I had been struggling in school this semester a little more than usual. But all I knew in that moment was that I was having one of the worst panic attacks of my life.

Despite moving over 600 miles away to a college I had never visited or seen, I had an awesome first semester. Somehow I managed to get involved in just about everything. That fall, I worked three different jobs, along with taking 17 credits worth of courses and writing a weekly column for the school newspaper. You would think I wouldn’t have been able to handle it, but for a while I did, and rather well.

A couple of months into that first semester, however, I started getting a little more stressed than usual. I didn’t think it would be a problem, but that all changed when, after not feeling well, I randomly checked my Apple Watch and found that my heart rate had increased to 120 bpm. In short, I was having a panic attack.

I probably should have started evaluating my life at this point, but I ignored it and continued to add more things onto my plate. I started a music band, tried dating for a bit, and filled my life with more and more events, responsibilities, and commitments. I finished off my first semester with great grades and signed up for even more responsibilities for the next one.

But that’s when everything came crashing down.

For the next two semesters, I was seriously struggling. I broke down in the deans’ office twice over major panic attacks. My homework was weeks to months behind, and for the first time in my entire education, I stared the possibility of F’s in the face.

As I sat with the deans that late Tuesday night, I came to the morbid realization that I had zero skills to deal with the challenges I was facing in life. I had thought that, eventually, they would go away and things would all be great. But what I now realized was that I don’t live in a world where everything will turn out great.

The Bible says that God “has planted eternity in the human heart” (Eccl. 3:11). We instinctively think that things will get better and that we will finally find purpose. But the Bible also says that “this world is not our permanent home” (Hebrews 13:14, NLT). We can’t expect this world to get better. Instead, what we need to do is develop skills to build resiliency even in the pain we continually experience.

The next few months saw a lot of changes for me. I started regularly seeing a mental health therapist once a week, talking to accountability partners, and making sure I took care of myself before agreeing to more commitments. And while my story doesn’t have the “happily ever after” ending we’ve come to love in books and movies, things did get better. Bad things were still happening; unfortunately, until Jesus comes, they always will. But because of the skills that I was developing, I was managing so much better. I finally made some friends who are honestly closer to me than even family and developed a real and personal relationship with God that I had never thought possible.

If you are struggling with the pain of this world right now, I can relate. Between the horrific killing of Tyre Nichols and others, an ongoing war overseas, and the aftermath of a global pandemic, there is a lot of hurt around us all. As a familiar song says, this world isn’t our home; we’re just passing through. And while we pass through, we can still build skills to find resiliency amid the chaos.




  1. Learn to love yourself. If you struggle with self-esteem, prioritizing yourself in commitments, relationships, etc., is a skill you may need to develop.
  2. Admit bad things happened to you. Sometimes we try to belittle bad things in our past to try to move on from them – but this is actually counterintuitive. Admitting that we were abused or neglected and that this contributed to our current problems can help us to overcome them.
  3. Consider counseling. While seeing a mental health therapist may or may not carry stigmas in your culture, there’s nothing wrong with talking to someone who is not only trained in counseling but also legally bound to confidentiality. It can help you so much in working through your day-to-day life.
  4. Pray more. A relationship with God that extends beyond once-a-week church goes a long way toward helping you to cope with life.
  5. Develop your network. Know which of your mentors, best friends, and family you can trust. The ones who are there for you no matter what are the ones you can rely on.


Charles Metz is a sophomore theology major who loves his new hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.

PHOTO CAPTION: Charles’s favorite thing to do is to have fun with his friends and coworkers at Union College.