I have been an absolute piece of shit when it comes to actually blogging this last year-and-a-half, but I really want to get back into it because I just like sorting out my thoughts via writing. Thankfully, due to some decisions I made at the end of last semester, I think I’ll actually have the time to write again. With that brief aside said and done with, I want to talk about the decisions I made and the effects of them.
The last two years have been rough for me. My sophomore year of college I was dealing with a lot of mental health concerns. Last year, I had started weekly counseling and began the process of learning to live with my depression and anxiety. Even though I had taken that big step in starting to take care of myself, there were other things in my life that were just so overwhelming. Other ways I sabotaged my self-care. You see, I have a tendency to think that I have to be “on” all the time. Unlike the stereotypical cultural image of college students who waste all their time binge-watching netflix and drinking in excess, I felt like I had to be doing something productive all the time. This internal assumption led me to overbook myself. (which is actually more stereotypical of the college students I know, but whatever, society just wants to think millennials are awful.)
Not only was I a full-time student, working part-time, and holding a leadership position of a service student organization, but I was also giving my time to multiple other causes and organizations that I cared about, trying to socialize with my friends when possible so they wouldn’t get mad at me, and dealing with my own emotional distress that I had been repressing for years. All of those commitments left with no time for myself whatsoever. I couldn’t allow myself to do something fun as a way to destress because doing anything that didn’t produce tangible achievements was so hard for me.
With my senior year coming up (and now arrived), I felt that I needed to make some changes. For me, being a senior ment that I not only had to do all of the normal class work, but I also had to write a 50+ page honors thesis and apply for grad schools. There was just no way I could get that stuff done, or at least done well, if I kept up my current load of responsibilities. After so much thought and discussion with my counselor, I decided not to be a leader in Dance Marathon, which I felt SO guilty about. I basically thought that I was trash for not spending my time working to raise money for kids with cancer (that’s what the org does). I had to tell myself that I have my whole life to make a difference in the world, but if I didn’t end up with a thesis I was happy with or put my best effort into my grad school applications, I would always regret it. So I didn’t apply for leadership positions. Instead, I decided to put myself first.
I also quit my job. I’ve worked since I was sixteen, so it feels weird to intentionally not have a job. Thankfully all of that working has put me in a position where I can take a year off from working without it being a huge financial stressor. Nonetheless, I still feel guilty about dipping into my savings in this way, but I just wanted the extra time and increased flexibility of not having a job right now. I just needed to focus on my next steps, not on juggling my schedule.
Anyways, the whole point of this rambling is that even though the decision to do less this year was so difficult, I’m so happy I cut back on my commitments. I actually have time to do all of my homework, see my friends, and even read for fun. I am consistently happier than anytime in my life that I can remember. I’m realizing how much extra stuff I did and committed myself to because I thought just being me wasn’t enough. I always felt that I wasn’t special unless I did all this extra stuff. But boy oh boy, doing less, but doing it better sure does feel good. I’m just so much happier when I actually take the time to take care of myself and put my needs above my ridiculously distorted image of what I should be. I don’t have to DO. Instead, I can just BE. And for the first time, that’s good enough for me.