ambitious & agitated

I've been on the move since December. After my last final exam last semester, I had to rush back to my dorm and gather a month's worth of belongings for winter break. When I got home, I had to change and go to work - first at the sports bar, then an evening shift at my job downtown. 


For the past three months I've been a fuse burning from both ends. "I don't know how you do it," my friends have said to me. One of them even refers to me as Wonder Woman or Super Woman. But being so busy all the time isn't a superpower -- everyone is busy, but filling up every hour of free time isn't healthy. Hyperactivity has become a trend within my generation. I've mentally and physically exhausted myself, and have been ignoring what my body has been telling me. I put so much pressure on myself to be successful, both financially and professionally, and I often feel pressured to figure everything out on my own. While I've accomplished a lot and do multiple things by myself, sometimes I'm still left with the feeling that I'm only getting started, and that I'm not doing enough. 

As you get older, you get busier. I undoubtedly have more responsibilities now than ever before. I'm a junior in college, I have two jobs, I'm an intern, and I write for two publications - and when this semester is over, I'm moving into an apartment and working full time over the summer. I already have an internship for next semester in place. When I started college, I knew that I would have to work all the way through - it wasn't a choice that had to be made, it was a reality, and will continue to be one.  For the past few weekends I've worked doubles, pumping Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee into my tiny frame, going back and forth between two jobs, which are on opposite sides of Cleveland, and using public transportation to get to and from each place, which requires even more planning on my part. I'm lucky to have employers that graciously work with my schedule, and don't say anything when I use host stands as my personal office during slow periods, filling out my planner for the following week, making carefully constructed lists for every weekday. 

But this semester, my anxiety has gotten the best of me. My body has had enough. One day in class last week it felt like my entire body was vibrating internally, and my hands were a little shaky. I tried my best to stay still in my seat, and took deep breaths. I didn't know what was happening. I considered not going to my last class of the day so I could calm down and have some down time before going into work, but I still pushed myself to get through the rest of the school day.

For the longest time I've bottled everything up - internalizing stress and anxiety hasn't done anything good for me. Which is why I started seeing someone to help me deal with my stressors, and to just talk to. And it has helped a lot. I was initially nervous about going into therapy, but it was the best thing I've done for myself in a long time, and there's no shame in getting help with something that has been affecting you negatively.  It shouldn't be stigmatized at all. Recently, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers wrote an essay about how he struggles with anxiety, which is a huge breakthrough for the mental health community. 

Moving forward, I have to get better at making time for myself. As tight as things are most of the time, taking care of myself overrules making money. While I'm in charge of my professional life, I'm in charge of my personal life - creating my own joy. I had the day off yesterday, and didn't get out of bed until 11. And it felt amazing. When I have time to myself I usually like to get on the bus and go to a coffee shop to write, so I did exactly that. I went on a drugstore run and bought some essential oil which my therapist suggested for me to try.

I make little notes of encouragement in my planner every week, and try not to drink caffeine after a certain time during the day.  I downloaded two new apps on my phone, Calm, and Aura, to help me not be so high strung. Little acts of self-care add up. 

Remember that you're not a machine. Before you're a student or employee, you're a human being first, and in order to perform well, you have to take care of yourself.