It’s been far too long, friends. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook ignoring my homework responsibilities. Nothing unusual about it, except there was one post that I scrolled past that made me stop. Not because it was funny, not because I recognized it, but because it was something nobody ever told me and I needed to hear it.
I know I was on a romantic relationship kick (and I promise more to come on that soon), but I really don’t stop to think about loving myself a whole lot. In the times of finals and the most pressure-filled days of our collegiate lives, I don’t think about my body or my mind.
I do, however, think about the exam I have tomorrow, the paper that’s due a week out, and the professor I need to ask questions for Thursday. I think about working as many shifts as possible to pay the bills, and I think about calling and checking in with family as soon as a spare moment arises. And then when I finally get done thinking about that, I start to study.
I’m sure you can relate.
The thing is, I always thought putting myself before school, studying, exams, friends, work, and my boyfriend was bad. Those things are so rewarding. I have to give them my full attention, right?
In that thought process, I forget about the 50 hours of sleep my body is supposed to be running on (maybe I get a little over half of that). I forget about eating meals most days. I forget about making healthy choices on what to eat. I forget about the time I’m supposed to carve out for workouts. And I forget about my mental health.
I’ll be honest, I’m insecure. And I have anxiety, really bad. But, at the end of the day, I don’t do anything to cope with it. I don’t take the time I need to deal with it, I just pile more on my plate. That’s the expectation, right? In order for us to be successful we have to belong to 5 or more groups and get straight A’s.
After reading that post, I realized something really important. I wish I knew this coming into college: You can’t be successful no matter how active you are or how great your grades are if, mentally, you’re falling apart.
Nobody told me this coming into college. And so I pushed myself so hard, I burned out. I was up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning doing homework. I was perfecting every last grammar error, putting the finishing touches on projects, and sending emails out. Some nights I’d fall asleep with my computer and papers all over my bed. I’d wake up to see crumpled papers, or occasionally my laptop on the floor (no worries, I’m much more careful now). I’d barely be awake enough when I went to class, or I’d miss because I didn’t hear my alarm.
But at the end of the day, I wasn’t taking care of me. I wasn’t taking care of my body or my mind. I was so focussed on getting A’s that I got sick for an entire semester. Not that you can stop mono, but even then, I pushed myself to go to class. I never missed a deadline, nothing was ever late. I still managed a 4.0 after a semester of mono.
It had nothing to do with how driven I was. It had everything to do with the pressure that I was under. The pressure that we’re all under. If I didn’t get it done, I’d fall behind. Then things would turn into bad grades, and before you know it, it would snowball into failing. Failing isn’t something I can take. It wasn’t something I was ready to handle. So I still pushed myself to go to class and do whatever it took to get that A.
My whole reason behind telling you this: DON’T RUN YOURSELF THIN BECAUSE OF THE PRESSURE YOU PUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS PUT YOU UNDER. It’s not worth it. I probably could’ve been healed after a month, but the side-effects lasted almost four months. And honestly, if you get in the habit of rejecting what your body needs, the effects can be longer-lasting than that.
I wish someone had told me earlier in my life that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to put yourself first, even if that means failing. Why? Because at the end of the day, that job position might close, that internship only lasts so long, school is only a small measurement of your knowledge, and grades are just small marks on paper. You, however, are going to be around a long time, longer than any of those things. And it’s important to put yourself first sometimes and take care of your body and mind during that time in order to be healthy and fully successful in any of those things.
No matter what the pressure says, you’re important. Being happy and healthy is important. Find a balance that’s good for you, and give yourself some much-needed self-love.