CONTENT WARNINGS: Mentions of Anxiety and Depression
At the end of a semester, it’s nice to take stock and have a good long look at your life. I endeavour to do this every semester, and though this year I’m divided more into chapters of a thesis than anything else, I constantly try to consider things I’ve done well with and things I’ve missed the mark on.
Have I done enough research? Have I done the readings for my classes? How many tutorials did I skip? Did I isolate myself from my friends during the stress of exam (or rather, for me, essay) season?
I ask myself these questions and consider the answers. Oftentimes, as a bit of a perfectionist, the answers aren’t as positive as I’d like them to be. I perpetually want myself to be doing more: to be reaching higher and pushing myself further. I’m constantly disappointed when I inevitably fail (at least in some part) to meet the unachievable goals I set myself.
Being a perfectionist can be tough. There are so many of us at uni constantly feeling guilty that we aren’t studying hard enough, disappointed in grades that aren’t high enough, pushing ourselves to breaking point. If we aren’t careful, as exam season looms large in our minds, we can push ourselves towards intense anxiety, burnout, and even depression.
Yet on a more positive note, at the beginning of a new semester rather than setting goals and making resolutions, I like to forgive myself for the previous one. I’ve made mistakes, maybe slacked off a little in some areas, but I’ve done my best. I’ve juggled my responsibilities, and have managed to come out the other side unscathed. At the end of the day, that’s what matters, and so I concentrate on letting go of my frustrations and gulping in my fresh start.
To the resident perfectionists out there, I say inhale and exhale. You’re doing great. Try to remember that you really are doing enough, that you’re doing your best, and that you’re doing something that’s hard. University is difficult, and it’s supposed to be. But we’re all struggling through, keeping our heads above water, and there’s not really much more that anyone can ask for.
So, rather than making new semester resolutions that we’ll inevitably forget about by second week, let’s all just forgive ourselves any weaknesses or mistakes from last semester. Let’s try to take it easy and let things be. After all, it looks like semester two is shaping up to be a doozy, friends, so all we can really do is keep swimming.