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The Myth of Perfection Series – #Just Breathe…

#Just Breathe…

All young people in academia have felt the weight of endless deadlines, exams, feeling constantly behind, and the struggle to balance social life, school and sleep. My experience is no different. As a young woman from a low-income background, I’ve always felt the pressure to be an achiever and continuously, I put other external validations above my well-being, and it has cost me my happiness and my passion for life. As depressing as this introduction sounds.  I’m here to remind you, that if you’re going through the same, you’re not alone so don’t be so hard on yourself.

It can be difficult navigating life as young person, but mental health is extremely important. It’s imperative that we take time for ourselves to enjoy life, to sleep and focus on our well-being. First, I found opening about how I was feeling to friends and other adults in my life who encouraged me and reminded me that my worth is not defined by what I do. That I am enough as I am, and I found this extremely refreshing. Now, I am not here to lecture you on hard work or balancing education whilst maintaining a social life… To be honest, I have not yet mastered the art of that.  Or to tell you that it’s going to be an easy ride because it will not be. As you know, mental health is something that requires constant nurturing. There is no quick fix. We’re all honestly just doing our best.  What I am here to do is remind all young people in school, or not in school, that’s it is okay to struggle, it is okay to be confused, most importantly it’s okay to get it wrong. Take a break when you’re feeling burnt out. I remember times when I would have countless of work to do and get stressed, and. End up procrastinating. Avoiding deadlines until the last minute, taking me much longer to complete work because I didn’t think what I was producing would be good.

During the first year of university, I would get sudden bursts of energy and be extremely productive for a week or two, and then be so overworked that I wouldn’t be able to do anything for weeks on end, and the work would just pile up. I would feel depressed because I felt like I had failed myself. It became a cycle of being burnt out, procrastinating, feeling stressed and completely disregarding my mental and physical health. The reality is, as much as we want to think we are, we are not machines, we are human beings with fears, dreams and passions, and we need time to recharge… to take a minute to breathe.  So, this is your reminder, that not everything needs to be perfect or worked out right now. In a world of fast pace and constant movement, it’s okay to slow down.

You need to allow yourself time to recover. Something I tried recently was taking a day in the week to do anything I wanted, even if that was absolutely nothing. I went out with friends, laughed, and I also tried to get a good sleep. Now, by no means am I saying that I’m okay right now, I still have a hefty workload, but this year I’m remembering to put myself first, and prioritise my health and well-being. That’s the first step. And always remember that you can talk to someone when you’re feeling overworked; sometimes just asking for  help is revolutionary enough. Remember to do the things you love, spend time with friends and spend time with yourself. Take regular breaks, and remember when the going gets tough, just breathe…

 

This blog post was written by Elohor Efakpokire, Intern at Amina MWRC.