Choose people

Christina Stavale

A FINAL TOAST: Senior columns

It was April of my junior year, and I was going on at least three days without any sleep. I was tired, scared and sick of being like this. People had been telling me for months now that I needed to do something about it, but I blindly hoped things would get better.

Somehow, at that moment, it was clear that things weren’t going to just “get better.” Everything that had gone wrong suddenly seemed clear to me, and it was up to me to fix it.

I wasn’t depressed, but I was on a downward spiral toward that point. Between school and my job, I was overworked and unable to spend time doing things I enjoyed. Little things got to me more than they used to, and it had been a

long time since I was truly happy.

Before college, I would have never thought this would happen to me. I came to Kent State ambitious, hardworking and always optimistic.

People told me about all the great things I could be: one of the top editors at the Stater, at an internship in a thriving city, and eventually with a great job (as long as I wasn’t attached to anyone and was willing to move out of Ohio).

These all sounded great at age 18. I looked up to the top editors, and wanted to be like them someday; I fantasized about doing my internship in a city I’d only dreamed of visiting; and I thought of what might be beyond Ohio, laughing at the notion that I would find someone at Kent State who I’d even want to be “attached” to.

Then, things slowly started to change. I made the best friends I’ve ever had. I met my boyfriend, now of more than two years. I became closer to my family than I’d ever been.

Bigger jobs meant less time to spend with these people. A faraway internship meant leaving them behind for a few months. And moving away from Ohio for good … well, I just couldn’t picture that anymore.

I hit that low point that afternoon in April because I couldn’t give my all to everything — the people I loved and the work I liked.

So I chose the people. You can find a new job, I realized, and even if it isn’t perfect, it’s the people you come home to that really matter.

I now know that I’m the type of person who needs a job where I can ask off for a family member’s birthday. And I won’t work overtime if I have a date planned with my boyfriend that night. As soon as I accepted this fact about myself, I became more optimistic and happy than I have ever been.

Almost everyone will someday be faced with the choice between work and the people in their life. Your first job might be cutthroat, where everyone is expected to put in overtime hours, leaving no time for friends and family. Or years down the road, you might have a boss that won’t let you take off for your child’s first birthday.

Go ahead and like your job — love it, even. But when faced with that choice, choose people. That decision, that conscious effort to always put the truly important things first, is what saved me.

Christina Stavale is a senior newspaper journalism major and managing editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at