Senior, Psychology major
Everything went Chris Clendenen’s way in life, until September 2009.
He’s a friendly and outgoing guy. He was studious and loved his job as a resident assistant. All of this changed that September of his junior year.
He stopped going to classes, ignored his RA duties, and lost all motivation to do anything.
He finally confided in a friend who pushed him toward Counseling and Psychological Services at the IU Health Center. The eventual diagnosis: severe clinical depression.
He failed all his classes that semester, grounds for Residential Programs and Services to fire an RA. At his appeal, he pleaded to keep his job, believing he could beat his depression and still hold his job. RPS did not agree.
He never finished his second semester. Needing out of Bloomington, he dropped his classes, packed his bags and hopped in the car, heading to Niagara Falls, N.Y.
He stayed away nearly a year, living with his grandparents and working as a blackjack dealer at a nearby casino. In those months, Chris cut out friends from his life. It took him a month to even go on the Internet or turn on his phone. No one was allowed to visit.
And slowly his life started coming together again. More aware of his behavior, both before and after his diagnosis, Chris changed, enough to move back to Bloomington, re-enroll in January 2011, and be reinstated as an RA in McNutt Quad this school year.
After his sixth year in college, Chris will graduate in May. Depression is something he knows he will battle for the rest of his life. Looking back, Chris wishes his younger self, before this all happened, knew what he knows now.
“When I came back to McNutt over the summer, I went back to that room where I was an RA four years ago. I sat in that chair and realized what I was like then and what I’m like now, four years later,” he says. “I wanted to talk to my younger self and say, ‘You don’t know everything, your life is too perfect, you’re not really living.’”
Junior, Education major
Lia Morris sometimes wonders where she would be if she had grown up with her parents in her life.
In 2006 Lia was living in Taiwan with her mother and her sister, Lena, when she told her mother she wanted to go to high school in America. She had lived in Bloomington until her parents divorced when she was five and now felt ready to return. “I was born and bred here five years before I went back, but personality-wise I just fit in better here than I do in Taiwan,” she says.
At 16 and 14, Lia and Lena moved into an apartment on the north side of Bloomington. They lived in apartments typically inhabited by college students, so they said their landlord never even asked them for proof of their age.
Her mother helped settle them in, reconnecting with a few friends from college who could check in on her daughters if necessary. “My mom, she isn’t a good mom either,” she says. “She did take care of us in one way, but I don’t think she knows anything about raising children.”
Both girls entered their freshman year together at Bloomington High School North in August 2006. Alone.
Lia’s mother took care of her and her sister financially, but it was hard for the girls to grow up without parents. “There are all these hormones. Usually parents have to deal with that. But you have to deal with that, you and your sister,” Lia says. “We fought all the time, about everything. We hated each other.”
Now Lia says the two are very close. Lia reconnected with her grandparents her senior year of high school and has made a few attempts to form a relationship with her father, who lives in Bloomington. Despite her adverse relationship with her parents, she doesn’t feel worse off than others.
“What if I had my parents and I turned out a spoiled brat?” she says. “I feel like I turned out okay, and that’s fine with me.”
Emeritus Professor of Classics
Tim Long always knew he wanted to be a professor.
“I always knew I wanted to be a professor, from the time I was a relatively little kid because of a television show called ‘The Halls of Ivy,’” Tim says. The sitcom was on air when Tim was 11, and it was about a college president and his colleagues.
Introduced to Latin as a freshman in high school and Greek his junior year, his career followed a direct path from student to professor. After high school he was granted a scholarship to Xavier University, where he majored in classics.
“If I had gone to a different school, I might have been exposed to a wider palette of languages, and might have ended up in modern language,” he says.
But while studying in Germany on a Princeton University travel grant in his mid-20s, he found he had a knack for picking up modern languages. He says he feels if he had learned this about himself at 18 or 19 before completing his bachelor’s degree, it might have affected his career choice.
Tim stayed in Germany for a year, and he returned to Princeton University where he was working on his Ph.D. in 1968. The following year he was offered a position at IU. Since then Tim has returned to Germany for research and teaching three more times.
“I used to own a Mercury Comet. A Mercury Comet is a horrible car. It has no handling capacities at all. It was a very, very pedestrian automobile,” he says. “A friend of mine once said of me ‘Tim is just like his car: It’s very good at going in a straight line.’ My line in life was pretty straight, and I’d have introduced a few more curves if I had to do it over.”
However Long says he doesn’t regret going into classics. Filled with fellowships and honors, he’s enjoyed his 44-year long career.
“I guess I thought the classics were more valuable than modern language. I thought they were more durable than the modern culture,” he says. “It’s ironic isn’t it?”
Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back it’s easy to see the mistakes and the never agains, but these three people have learned that sometimes looking back isn’t always about the regrets — it’s how you’ve grown since then.