This post is going to be entirely dedicated to me.
Writing is reinforcing self-talk. I have been so hard on myself, as I always am with schoolwork.
I've said before that I tend to focus on everything I am not doing, instead of praising my own tiny accomplishments.
That has been these past few weeks. Finals are tough. I am not downplaying the stress that all college students endure, but I can also say that with my personality I find it difficult to keep up at times. My severe anxiety, my tendency to be lost in my thoughts, forgetful, and my trouble concentrating are only worse when I am overwhelmed. I have a quiet demeanor, and my friends often describe me as "chill" because that's how I appear. Inside me, is a different story.
And, boy I am overwhelmed.
I don't get homesick, but lately I'm so desperate to just go home. All year, I hadn't been the one calling mom wanting to come home. Lately, my mom has practically been on my speed dial. Even my mom knows I am not the type to call home crying about papers, so she just knew I had hit a breaking point.
No, a 15 page research paper on social class in America is not the easiest/most exciting thing I could be writing. It is challenging for me. I write like I'm telling a story. I write from my heart, and the thoughts just floating inside my head. Research papers are difficult for me, because I don't write like that. I can't share my story, or my own opinions because they don't matter.
This paper has been the death of me. I truthfully want to cry just by looking at the thing. It's done. It's written. It's a rough draft, though and it needs much more work.
I had a conference with my professor and I expressed how overwhelmed I have been by this assignment along with my gazillion other final papers.
"I don't know why I've always struggled with research papers."
"I can tell you why" he said, "they are really fucking difficult."
The thing is, I'm not even doing terribly. He even told me I described it to be much worse than it actually is. But during those full 15 minutes I sat with him, I was choking on air, struggling to hold back tears. When I left, there was no holding them in anymore, and my phone was ringing for my mom all over again.
I am just burnt out. I feel brain dead. I just want to turn in my assignments as they are as long as I "just pass." That is where I am at.
I am tired of the stress, the tears, the fact that I have had trouble eating because my anxiety is so severe, and I just want the relief to come. I have less than 2 weeks left. I just want to be back home with my fluffy cat, watching movies on the couch, laughing with my mom.
Even my professor's last words to me as I left his office were, "You got this, be confident-." and some other words I can't remember.
I know it's a me thing.
As a 2nd grade student, my teacher had watched me while taking a test. She told my mom how I would tense up, and how she could visibly see me shaking. 2nd grade.
I know I am doing just fine. My grade point average is better than it has ever been, I am getting my work done, passing my classes, I haven't given up. I just always beat myself up knowing I could be doing more. My mom, my professors, everyone tells me to breathe and believe in myself. They can see it written all over me that I am hard on myself.
I have always been a smart kid who tries very hard. But there are things like my attention span, and my anxiety that have impacted my grades. My mom even said, "I wonder sometimes if you should have had a 504 plan in elementary school." I cried in frustration. Just wishing these little self esteem flaws were addressed when I was young. If someone had seen past the quiet girl in class who was well-behaved, and had been there as a support for me. What if I have inattentive ADD that was never diagnosed?
"Haley, honey you have to stop digging." my mom said.
I am not looking for things to be "wrong" with me. I may be digging, but only because I want to be supported. I don't want to feel like I'm struggling to keep up, or that I could be doing better when the "average pace" is too much for me.
- and that is where I am going to stop. The worries have been released, and now it's time to snap back into shape.
I have made SO many accomplishments this year. Public speaking, articles published, the people I have met, declaring my major, my field placements- the list goes on!
In late August of 2016 I showed up at my college's counseling center.
Why I was there? Why I was seeking counseling? I remember the words clearly, "I do not want to end up where I was."
Now it is almost May, and my counselor reminded me of that. She reminded me, to show me that after all the kickass things, and struggles of my freshman year, I accomplished my original goal. I stayed safe.
It put things into perspective for me. My standards, my needs, are different from others. Everyone has there own. I need to stop comparing myself. I need to stop forgetting that I have every right to be where I am at, right this moment and every moment after that.
At the end of the day it does not matter how well I did on a paper. What is important to me is that I keep going, pushing through every obstacle, and be able to say "I got through it." My challenges are my challenges for a reason. Education seems to be one big fish bowl and everybody has equal expectations. How can you not compare where you are at, to another student, or the student you used to be?
I may not be able to change how I get easily overwhelmed, but I can learn to change how I respond to myself because of it. Maybe that is my new goal to work on for next school year.
For now I shall see my happy vision of summer around the corner, and bang out my final assignments and presentations even if the tears follow.
Yep, welcome to college!
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.