Spring 2021 was grueling. The only stable, consistent thing during the entire hectic semester was my frequent shedding of tears. It was hard. There were times I wondered why I chose to embark on a journey that included 8 classes, 2 assistantships, and 1 new job (during a pandemic, no less).
Over time I learned that decision was largely for the need to feel “normal" while at home taking online courses. The countless hours of working, researching, and writing did hold semblance to the hustle and bustle of living on-campus. Like many other semesters, I felt tired and overwhelmed. Yet, something about it took a harder toll on me than usual.
Perhaps it was purely the quantity of the tasks I had to complete that had me in a tizzy. I felt like a breathless jogger, lost in a state of adrenaline, exhaustion, and the bothersome inkling that I was always going to fail myself.
I got entwined in 4 months worth of proposal writing, data collection, and German lectures. With the lack of a Spring break due to COVID-19, I was often that hopeless jogger I mentioned. And worst of all, I often felt there was no one in the audience cheering me on to that much desired finish line.
Unsurprisingly, I burned out quick. Feelings of fatigue and loneliness were encompassing. However, the Wellness Day (which entailed a class-free day) was the restart I needed. Of course, I spent part of that day working (I'm a student. How could I not?). Yet, the remainder was used thinking about the importance of placing myself on the same pedestal I placed all my other obligations on. Namely, it helped me to realize I was often my own bully. I would deny myself sleep, hobbies, and free time all in the name of being the “perfect" student.
After reflecting on how I needed to prioritize myself, I did just that. I adopted a new attitude, too. My slogan changed from, “ work hard, then work harder" to “work hard, then give yourself a breather." There were so many times in the past I passed up opportunities and outings to spend hours upon hours working. I always thought taking time for yourself was an unnecessary evil. Yet, it was the utter hardships of this semester that taught me self-care is a necessary good.
I mean, think about it: a strong, competitive athletic is one that prepared themselves for the demands of their sport, yet they also take care of their body. Their temple. The unit that houses that strength. A strong spirit can only hit so hard in a weak, defeated body. Self-care, even at a small level, can be a game charger. It can be that refresher you need to get up and carry on.
The trials and tribulations of Spring 2021 made me stronger, smarter, and more cognizant of myself. It taught me to care about my own non-school related wants, needs, and desires. But, it ultimately taught me prioritizing time for addressing those needs isn't “lazy" or “unnecessary," it's essential to carrying on.