We all face challenges. Sometimes life really likes to put the pedal on the metal and give you multiple challenges at once. One of the biggest struggles I found with CUNY SPS is that the classes aren’t structured. By that I mean that at Berkeley College online you were able to know when you had deadlines and they typically didn’t coincide with each other. At CUNY SPS, you might have 4 projects all due at once and to make it even more challenging they might be group projects.

So just how do you manage that? It’s hard that’s for sure. A lot of us have our own careers, family life, children, parents that we care for or other challenges that we face. I won’t say that it’s easy because it’s not. For me alone, I’ve had to face a new challenge. My health. Just a few months back my entire life was upended. I was told I had lupus. Now three months in I was given another diagnosis for another autoimmune disease called sjogrens. So three months in I’m battling symptoms of chronic physical pain that can feel crippling and chronic extreme fatigue. So how do I manage working full time taking care of my daughter and school? The fact is I don’t. Sometimes I’ll lack at home cleaning up or somewhere I lack, because it’s impossible for me to do it all. I just do the best that I can because quite frankly that’s all I can do. I can’t do anymore.

While I get my physical being in order, trying to figure out which doctor is right, I’m living. I’m learning slowly to be nice to myself. If my body says go to bed even though I should be breaking night to study, I’m going to bed. At the end of the day, my dream was to graduate magna cum laude because I’m capable of magna work. But I’ve come to a point of forgiveness with myself. It’s the understanding that just because I don’t do perfect all the time, because I don’t reach every single goal, it’s okay. It won’t kill me to not be such an over achiever. What really matters is that I’ve given all that I can try to give.

Half of my friends don’t even know what’s going on with me physically but that’s okay. The thing is that autoimmune diseases are invisible diseases. On the outside you look great. On the inside you have a waging war. I don’t want sympathy or pity or people thinking I’m sick. I take the admission of being sick as though I have something wrong with me. I do, but I’m fighting. I don’t want pity or special treatment. I just want to be normal, but somewhere out there, I have no doubt there may be other students that feel the same. My words to you are, you are not alone. We are all united as students, with similar goals to either succeed, so better for our families, be the first college grads.

Jessica Simpson is a Senior at CUNY SPS enrolled in the Business Program. She works full time as an immigration paralegal in NYC. She has a strong passion for advocacy, children and psychology. In her spare time she reads psychology books and textbooks while studying personality disorders. Her motto is, “Adversity will either break you, change you or make you, I’ve opted in my life to take the latter road and because of that I’m made into what I am today.”