Yakumithis: Stop idealizing apathy: Why I am leaving CWRU

Sophia Yakumithis, News Editor

I’m out. As in, I’m leaving this place forever.

I know you’re probably devastated since my sense of humor seems to resonate in this otherwise apathetic school. But for that reason, I must now leave.

Let’s rewind to my senior year of high school. After being rejected from the colleges I hoped to get into, I tried my hardest to embrace the idea of Case Western Reserve University. Note that I am a history major at a STEM school. My parents and friends kept saying: “It ranks highly,” “you’ll be a big fish in a small pond,” etc., and all those loving reassurances carried me through my first year.

However, they carried me through only that. Last summer, a few incidents involving the university’s inflexible policies caused me to miss out on some credit-based internships and that did it for me.

I planned on “toughing out” this year like everyone suggested, but during the second week of classes this fall, I had to turn down yet another internship opportunity for the same reason. I am not one to settle, so I decided to drop out like a hot potato. Actually, a lukewarm potato.

Deciding to exit the university on “personal leave” within a 48-hour span was mentally and emotionally draining. During that short window, I decided my mental health and career trajectory were more important than other people’s expectations. I broke the news to my friends, family and various faculty who I developed meaningful bonds with. I moved out alone. Packing was depressing and so was the prospect of leaving my independence and moving back home, which made that arguably the most isolating evening of my life.

However, the light at the end of the tunnel was that I felt like I was moving in a better direction. A lot of people told me my decision was foolish and rash, but I alone somehow stayed true to myself and carried on just fine.

That sounds like a pity party, but it was the best decision for me. I feel that despite the circumstances, I made the most of my time at CWRU and my time after it. When I left, I found a non-academic internship, maintained close relationships with people in the community and remotely continued to work as News Editor for The Observer. This paper has been incredible and through it I’ve met people who have changed my life while also gaining a better understanding of the university itself—for better and for worse.

You could argue that humanities majors have an obligation to “pave the way” for prospective students or that being a “big fish in a small pond” is a good thing. I considered those notions and realized that in college, my priority is to feel academically supported and emotionally fulfilled. While paving the path for others sounds great, my biggest concern is in my own academic career and engagement, something challenging at a stressed out, bureaucratically-dominant institution. College is about personal growth and learning to use different resources in order to reach self-actualization.

For all you pre-meds, I want you to consider this: do what makes sense for you in context of your individual journey.

I felt that sharing this story was important for the people I know who feel they’re at a disadvantage or stuck in a motionless vortex. There are things you can do for yourself aside from caving to the university’s different “wellness” programs and offices; I’ve met people who have grown from the stagnation in the respect that their work ethic has wildly become more efficient, but I also know people who just take CWRU for what it is and enjoy themselves that way. While those things didn’t work for me, I believe that staying true to yourself is ultimately the biggest step to that actualization and I hope other students can reach it as well.

My final request is that everyone—faculty and students included—stop idealizing apathy. It’s getting really annoying and led me to transfer out.