“Alright Scholars, I want all of you to branch off into groups of five. Do this quickly! We don’t have much time.” (My inner self) “Man, I hate working in groups. This is really going to suck. I’m gonna end up doing all of the work. No one is going to listen to me. I don’t look like everyone else, so no one is going to take me seriously.” Several Minutes Have Passed Oh! I actually have to get into a group.

My disdain with group learning began in kindergarten. At five years old, I still didn’t know to tie my shoes. My teacher placed us in a group of six to learn. There was this kid, Jimmy, who had a crush on me. He plopped himself right next to me. We were instructed to sit criss cross applesauce. I did as I was told. Jimmy did not. He stretched his hairy wolf legs over to touch mine. I scooted over and he followed me. I yelled at him to stop, and the group laughed. I continued to scoot until I had almost met a wall. My heart began to race and my hands started to shake. Death felt like it was near. It had approached me and I didn’t know what to do. “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YA’LL DOING?!”, screamed my kindergarten teacher. I couldn’t muster up a word the whole day. She sent me to the principal’s office, and my mom took me home. I later explained to her everything that had happened.

Fast forward through the years after my first panic attack: I have had many experiences and learned many lessons about myself. I have found that there is power in coming to terms with who you are, whether or not others view it positively. I am an African American girl who has depression and anxiety who doesn’t like learning in group settings. One would think that group learning experiences change in college because of the presumed “safe” spaces. That just isn’t true. The world infiltrates college campuses just like it permeates every other medium of life. I love UAB, it’s extremely progressive. We just live in the United States. The U.S. has a dilemma with miseducating, misinterpreting, and misinforming our public about mental disorders…and everything else.

Depression and anxiety make group learning incredibly difficult. Depression removes the desire to do/enjoy anything that one previously enjoyed. If depression had its way, my entire life would be enacted through the stage of my Serta mattress set. Anxiety is like the little bugs that dirty elephants swat away in the jungle. The bugs want to pick at the dirt on the elephant’s flesh, and he just wants to be left alone. Anxiety sneaks up behind its victims and whispers in their ears. It tells them that their opinions aren’t valid.

Medication improves my focus, but not my willingness to work in a group. I could be in a group with friends and still not have a willingness. I desire the independence to have control over my own success. If I fail, I want to say I gave it my all; not that I trusted someone else with my grade. I’ve been through a lot just to make it to this point in my educational career. I just want to do the best I can. So, I’ll be a lone wolf. But, I’m sure not lonely.