“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” -Lance Armstrong.
Quitting. What a scary word.
Growing up, I was convinced that quitting anything was the ultimate sin. I never was a quitter, and I’m still not – the thought of quitting something makes me physically anxious. I don’t want to be known by anyone as someone who quits when things get tough, which I think is a pretty common feeling, but I would unhealthily obsess over it. That same sensation certainly followed me to college and was very clearly heightened from the moment day 1 of orientation began.
College has definitely made me develop an underwhelming sense of accomplishment. It’s normal for students to be discussing how little sleep they got the previous night, how they’re taking 3 extra credits, their lack of time due to their disgustingly packed schedules… people want you to know how busy they are. This is in no way healthy, and it can be especially damaging for someone’s self-esteem. I told myself that I, too, had to get ridiculously minuscule amounts of sleep and spread myself really thin in order to succeed, because you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, right?
“Well, if everyone else is doing it, I should do it too!” I naively told myself. I wish I could slap freshman year Maddie.
I stress myself to the point where I can’t even give myself a second to breathe during the day, and then when I do finally get a break, I automatically go to the space in my brain that tells me I’m not doing enough. Yes, of course, it’s important to be involved in your school community and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you, but there comes a point where you just have to let yourself say “no.”
Recently, I had to quit my job and it crushed me. I knew that it was the right thing for me to do – it was eating up all of my free time. I don’t want to look back on my college experience and be mad at myself for not going out and having fun on the weekends because of a stupid retail job, so there’s where the quitting comes in. It was so hard for me to accept that this was the right move to make, and I felt as though I was letting myself down. Thoughts of “other people can balance weekend jobs so why can’t I?” and “how am I going to make money?” came into my head and I almost felt more stressed than I did when I was still scheduled to work. Like I said, I don’t want to be known as a quitter, certainly not from a job. I weighed my options and found that I really didn’t need to work, whereas I definitely do need to focus on my classes and my college experience as a whole. Working wasn’t helpfully contributing to that in any way, so I stopped. I quit, and I certainly don’t regret it.
We slave over hours of work, we drive ourselves to the point of insanity obsessing over our mistakes; then, we’re bombarded by the media and by our peers/ families, warning us to practice “self-care” and not stress ourselves. Where does the balance come in? It comes with focusing on yourself. If I’m being fully transparent, I have a difficult time doing this. I’m constantly comparing myself to other people, wondering if my efforts are enough or if I’m to going to be as successful as them or whatever the case may be. Honestly though, and pardon my French – but who the fuck cares?
It doesn’t matter what other people are doing.
Happiness and mental/ physical health are the things that truly matter. Being overwhelmed and busy is so glamorously portrayed, but your inordinately booked schedule is unimportant if the other, more relevant aspects of your life (like your happiness!!) are out of balance. Take some time to evaluate what is important to you. Get out of the comparative headspace, and focus on what you have to offer the world, because we all have so much to give, and it would be a real shame to waste your unique talents because you wanted to be like someone else.