It seems as though the only way to be truly self-fulfilled as a college student is to be truly stressed out. The more you take on, the more you have to offer to yourself as far as opportunities go. That might be joining more clubs, getting a job (or a second one), heading to the gym more often or maybe even just going the extra mile on project or paper for a class. Momentum is key. You are the mass, and the drive for success is the velocity; you just have to keep going. You, the independent, impeccable example of Newton’s first law of motion is “doing college” like no other. But what happens when you are acted upon by an unbalanced force?
The funny thing about wanting to be independent and essentially have all your shit together is that there is always that one shit you don’t have in the togetherness of your other shit. That shit is the lack of acknowledgement of and preparedness for something that will throw you completely off course. Basically, you’ve missed the “shit happens” shit.
I can speak for this concept genuinely because this has been my life for the past two weeks. The unbalanced force which launched my vector onto a negative plan was something pretty simple: I got sick.
It is that time of year where everyone is getting sick, I did recognize that. All the girls in my suite were getting sick, a lot of my other friends were too. I didn’t think I could possibly fall from the grace of full health and even if I did I thought “Hey, how bad can it be?”
I failed to recognize that getting sick in an environment where you have to keep going and going is no small deal. I had a lovely sinus infection one week, and the very next week (thank you Halloweekend) I contracted a delightful case of strep. I missed classes, used up a considerable amount of money for tissues and medicine, cancelled interviews and replaced going to the gym every night with quarantining myself in my room with my only immune companions, Michael Scott and the rest of Dunder-Mifflin.
If you’re like me, a lack of schedule and a lack of independence is detrimental to your everyday contentment. Having to ask friends to drive me to Rite Aid for various items and asking class project team members to pick up my slack for missing class really killed me. I got really down on myself and felt guilty for being unable to maintain autonomy and be my own leader.
With self-determination being my state of mind, I rarely will reach out to my parents for guidance because of my own pride and stigma for independence. But when I called my dad for questions about my health insurance, I broke down over the phone and spilled all of my emotional trauma over being incapacitated from everyday life. Of course he listened and reassured me that it is okay to ask for help and take a rest when I need it, because that is what happens in life. Shit happens. When I expressed my guilt over asking friends to drive me places and help with work I missed, he replied: “Well, wouldn’t you do the same for them?” And yes, yes I would.
So, not only through this catharsis to my dad did I realize I was being a bit overdramatic, he helped me remember that there are reasons why we have friends in life, and it’s not only for laughs and good company. It is also the justified ability to ask for help and receive the answer of “Yeah sure I can do that for you!” because I would no doubt respond the same way if roles were reversed.
Whatever the unbalanced force is in your life that causes you to forgo your prized self-reliance and fast-paced schedule for a while, those who care about you are there to get you back on your feet. A short conversation with my dad completely turned around my mood and encouraged me to keep moving foward. Not only can you look to the help of others, you can still have a degree of self-sufficiency through self-love; don’t beat yourself up – breathe – and take a break.
I’ve never written anything personal for my newspaper, so this was new for me. The advice that I am giving here has been hard for me to apply to my own life. However, I now realize that it is important to absorb and accept the care others will give you and have self-love for yourself, no matter how productive you are. If you are having trouble believing that this advice is actually helpful for your own life, you should know something else about me—I would never print anything under my name that is not the absolute truth.