Getting emotional help and dealing with pets
When I was eight years old, I had two guinea pigs named Lollipop and Princess.
I didn't want to injure them, so I was afraid to touch them. I began with little strokes on their heads, and they rapidly became at ease with me as they realized I had no malicious intent.
Because they didn't judge me like other people, I leaned to them for emotional support as I got more at ease with them. When I was angry, I would cuddle and pet them, but even seeing them play with each other could make me feel better.
While I was lonely at school due to my lack of friends, I enjoyed seeing Lollipop and Princess playing, eating, or sleeping. It instantly made me forget why I was sad and put a grin on my face.
My father committed suicide when I was nine years old. It was a tough moment for me, not only because I hadn't expected a family death so soon in my life, but also because I didn't know how to deal with it.
It was tough for me to confront my emotions, and I alternated between crying and feeling numb. I didn't know how to deal with my emotions, so I turned to Lollipop and Princess for help. They reminded me to appreciate the time I had with my loved ones.
It was devastating when Princess died in 2016. Because we were both grieving, seeing Lollipop's anguish over the loss of her sister made it even harder for me.
She didn't eat or move much that day. I put my emotions aside to assist Lollipop cope with her grief, which made dealing with Princess' loss much more difficult. I had to deal with my emotions while also trying to cheer up Lollipop and make sure she ate and drank enough water to keep her health from deteriorating.
Lollipop died less than a year later. I felt hollow inside after losing two significant elements of my life. I didn't know how I'd deal with challenging sentiments moving forward without Lollipop and Princess as my main sources of emotional support.
My uncle adopted a rabbit before Lollipop died. During the summer, I saw the rabbit a few times and loved his company.
My uncle died in a work-related accident around a month after Lollipop died. My family adopted the bunny because no one else could care for him. We named the bunny Nejo to make it appear as if we still had a piece of my uncle to remember him by.
While I don't see Nejo very often during the school year, I always look forward to seeing him when I go home for the holidays. When I do see him, I spend a lot of time playing with him and talking to him about my worries, which I find soothing because of his nonjudgmental presence.
I was concerned that coming to Philadelphia would be the first time I would be without a pet and that I wouldn't be able to find emotional support, but I was fortunate to have roommates who share my passion for animals.
My housemates and I got a cat before moving into my apartment since we thought it would bring us greater joy; we named him Soup.
I was homesick for a long time after moving in, and I spent many days sobbing and adjusting to a new atmosphere where I had to do everything myself. I was looking forward to moving out and being in my own space, but it was also my first time away from home. This transition was overwhelming, but I was fortunate to have Soup to console me.
Soup has helped me deal with homesickness and loneliness as I've struggled to establish friends here as well. Having him snuggled up on my lap always made me feel better and made the transition to college a lot easier.
After winter break, one of my roommates and I adopted another cat, Miguel, as a friend for Soup.
When I'm in a terrible mood, I'll sit in the living room and watch Soup and Miguel play with each other. I'm prone to procrastination and lack of motivation, but rewarding myself by spending time with them has recently boosted my motivation.
Living with Soup and Miguel made me appreciate how important pets have been in my life. All of the creatures in my life have had a great impact on me, and I'll be eternally grateful for the joy and support they've provided me, even during my worst days.