As 2018 comes to a close, there is a lot of learning I have to reflect on, and too much to talk about through just one post.
To say the least, 2018 was a year of learning, growth and transformation. Through all of the sweet, bittersweet and difficult moments, I learned how to identify the silver lining in every situation, and I learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin.
feeling p o w e r l e s s
There is one trap that almost every college student easily falls into: convincing yourself that you don’t have time to take care of yourself. When grades, internships and working enough hours to pay for rent and food become a priority, it can be hard to make time to sleep enough, to make food and eat healthy, and even to spend time hanging out with other people.
There is one trap that almost every college student easily falls into: convincing yourself that you don’t have time to take care of yourself. When grades, winning scholarships and working enough hours to pay for rent and food become a priority, it can be hard to make time to sleep enough, to make food and eat healthy, and even to spend time hanging out with other people.
This was a feeling I was trapped in for a long time- at least for the entire last half of my third year in college. My sole focus became my grades and my research, and not making time for all the other things that were important to me resulted in me feeling like I couldn’t do anything else.
There was a long list of things that I wanted to be doing but couldn’t.
By convincing myself that I couldn’t do anything besides focusing on what was most important, I trapped myself in a cycle of negative emotions and a feeling of powerlessness. The worst part was that it wasn’t one I could find my own way out of. Depriving myself of all my hobbies and keeping a long, running list of all the things I felt that I couldn’t do resulted in me trapping myself in this mindset of powerlessness, too.
This constant feeling of powerlessness seriously affected my health in multiple different ways, and eventually I hit a breaking point. Luckily, I was able to get help, and through some difficult but necessary conversations, I was able to find a new perspective.
I realized that there was always going to be a long, running list of things I couldn’t do. But there is also a long list of things that I can do, and that’s what I learned to focus on.
finding the silver lining.
Maybe I wouldn’t always get as much sleep as I’d like to, but there are certainly ways to work relaxation time into my schedule. I don’t always have a solid hour or two to work out, but I do get little breaks between school and work when I can do something. Maybe I couldn’t always find time to eat a proper meal, but I did have the capacity to watch what I was eating a little more carefully.
I realized that I wasn’t as trapped as I thought I was, and that there is always a silver lining that I can look forward to.
I really took this lesson to heart. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a silver lining to every situation I find myself in, and this helps me feel positive, hopeful and powerful rather than powerless.
Maybe I didn’t get to sleep as much as I wanted to, but I could find different ways to relax, whether it was by taking breaks to listen to music, or by having short but meaningful conversations and catch-up time with friends. Maybe I wouldn’t have time to cook healthy food, but I could always pick out healthy snacks and eat those things that I feel good about putting into my body. Maybe I don’t have as much time as I would like to work out, but whatever time I do have, I can make the most of it.
No matter how thin, there is always a silver lining.
A simple change in perspective can do a lot. For me, focusing on the positive parts of my life really helped my confidence, something that I really struggled with before.
I realized that I was capable of a lot more than I thought, and I wouldn’t have been able to feel this way unless I’d become better at problem-solving. In the past I’ve struggled to open up to people, and I’ve struggled to be honest about my feelings, especially when I was unhappy or uncomfortable with something. In an effort to keep the atmosphere positive, I hid my negative emotions. Since realizing this I try everyday to remind myself that struggling with something doesn’t mean struggling with it forever. And you can take baby steps to get better. I made conscious efforts to get better at being more direct about how I felt, and to explain my own limits and come to terms with them.
This growth also helped me become less judgmental. When you judge yourself because of all the things that you feel like you can’t do, it’s easy to compare yourself to other people, and it’s even easier to find things that are wrong with other people to try and make yourself feel better. I don’t think that we recognize how toxic judgementality really is. If you don’t consciously try to find a way out, it can become a horrible cycle to get trapped into. I never made an effort to be less judgemental because I felt like other people were constantly judging me, and I actually cared about these judgements- another mistake.
Once I started recognizing my own strengths and areas of improvement, I also started recognizing judgements simply as signs of insecurity. Since then, I’ve been making more conscious efforts to recognize my own judgementality, and ways that I can extinguish it. I’m learning to focus more on my own self-growth and letting others worry about theirs. If you love yourself the way that you’re supposed to, and concentrate on you own growth, you can then help others to do the same.
That’s what I’m going to be focusing on in twenty nineteen.
There is so much that I have to look forward to this year. From finishing a research project and presenting in (and organizing!) my first research conference and spending what are possibly my last few months in Seattle before I potentially move out of the area (and even out of state) for grad school and beyond. There are still places I have to visit, my family and the best friends in the world that I want to spend time with. I can’t wait for all the adventures this next year holds.