All my life, I've been told that I need to be confident and driven. And I have taken that to heart.
I worked my butt off throughout high school and college. This semester, I have classes, a job, and an internship. Every day, I feel myself working towards my future, whether it be at my internship getting short articles/blogs published, at my job making money to pay my bills, or at school, working towards my journalism degree.
I haven't had a true day off in almost two months. I have something to work on every day of the week. When I do take a rare day off, it's to do schoolwork or meet up with my friends or boyfriend (and as an introvert, going out with people sometimes feels more like work than a break).
And I'm not complaining. Life could always be harder. My grades are decent and I'm on track to graduate next winter. But I can never shake the feeling that I should be doing more. Some of my friends are doing independent studies or already have jobs at newspapers. At a place like UCF, there are always opportunities to do more with your career.
UCF offers honors programs, opportunities to get out-of-state paid internships, and more. And it feels like a waste to not try and grab these opportunities. My classmates certainly don't seem to ever miss out on an opportunity.
I want to take these opportunities as well, but sometimes I forget how many opportunities I already have taken. The classes I'm taking are not easy and I'm interning at one of Orlando's most well-read publications.
The other day, UCF was hosting an Internship Pursuit event for journalism majors. My professors strongly recommended going and making connections so much so that one of them even canceled class so that we could go during class time.
I'm not interested in doing another internship until the summer, but I knew that true over-achievers would be there, searching for summer internships almost a year in advance.
However, I was just exhausted. The day before Internship Pursuit, I had several anxiety attacks (due to reasons I don't want to share). I was working almost all day and had no time to print out resumes and writing samples or pick out business casual clothing.
I also had a huge project that I had to work on and would have nearly no time to complete before the weekend, as I was working all weekend again.
Also, I hadn't had a full night's sleep in weeks, due to my new kitten waking me up early every morning and anxiety keeping me from falling back asleep.
All of this accumulated the day before Internship Pursuit and I decided I needed sleep. I slept through Internship Pursuit the next day rather than going.
Afterward, I felt incredibly guilty. I told my friends that I was feeling too sick to go (which wasn't entirely a lie - I was just mentally sick rather than physically).
I also missed an interest meeting about a fellowship that would pay for someone to travel to another state and intern at a publication.
The idea that I was actively giving up opportunities that could help my future was soul-crushing (not to sound overly dramatic). I'm in a place of privilege, being presented with all of these opportunities, yet I was too lazy to pursue them.
However, I've realized that preserving your mental health isn't being lazy. Sometimes, letting an opportunity pass you by isn't the end of the world because there will be another opportunity that arises instead, especially at a huge university.
You need to take the time to preserve your sanity and regain your energy or you won't be able to enjoy any of the opportunities you do have.
Just as you need to schedule out your activities, you need to schedule outbreaks so that you have the energy to really throw yourself into your activities rather than being a sleep-deprived zombie at everything you do.
And don't worry too much about missing an opportunity. It might feel like the end of the world, but it's really not that big of a deal. I'll try my best to take my own advice.