I have spent the vast majority of my life being an overachieving perfectionist. Such a negative description, but sadly true. Part of it is genetic, but sometimes we encounter environmental factors that push us over the edge and straight down to Crazy Town, Nebraska. My push?
Mononucleosis. I never thought I would be defeated by a virus, but neither did Neighbor 406 in Zombieland. It’s supposed to be relatively harmless. Sleep for a week and you’ll be fine, right?
I didn’t become cannibalistic, but most of my middle and high school days were spent slaving over makeup work because I was so sick. I would go to school for a month, then collapse for two weeks. On average, I threw up until I passed out about three times a month. I could barely move, my rapid weight gain making itself obvious in the form of stretch marks. My self-esteem plummeted and I didn’t laugh or smile for weeks on end, all the while dealing with family problems way beyond my maturity level and crying myself to sleep twice a week. But instead of letting myself rest within my physical boundaries, I pushed myself to the breaking point. Why? I needed to prove that I wasn’t weak.
Hermione knows how it is.
You would think that as a teenager I would have given myself room to breathe and grow, but unfortunately my ego was too big to make room for anything but itself. As an adult, I’m beginning to believe that even though I haven’t had many good role models, I may have been the worst one I ever had.
Somehow, pushing my boundaries made me feel better, emotionally if not physically. It was so bad that I ended up taking a gap year because I knew I needed a break before heading to university. I relapsed briefly halfway through due to overwork at my part-time job. When I finally got to college I opted to take things slow because I didn’t want my health to become a problem, a wonderful concept that I somehow thought I was too good for and now I’m like:
My freshman year was nice and leisurely, but I felt like I was wasting my potential. So my sophomore year I took 18 credit hours, was involved in 8 student organizations, and maintained my internship with LivLuna. People kept asking me why I looked so tired. I told everyone I was fine, but I literally looked like a crazy emu.
Above is a picture of me at the time. As you can see, my complexion suffered immensely.
But it wasn’t without its merits: I got some scholarships, scored a job as a Graduate Assistant in the business school, and I have an impressive resume. And it was great until I realized it would never be enough.
I did too much, but nothing for myself. I slept 8 hours a night, but never felt rested. I even forgot to eat, and food is my life, so that’s when I realized I had a problem. I kept trying to fit myself into an image of something I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be better so badly that I couldn’t see how amazing I already was.
And that was how 2013 became a living hell. I got viral pneumonia, didn’t get the other internship I wanted, contracted viral meningitis, then relapsed and was forced to return home for a semester. As a result I almost decided to drop out of school completely and I was incredibly, incredibly lonely.
But here’s what I learned:
- Time is the greatest gift you can give yourself. I felt terrible about sitting on the couch for two months, but this time around I learned a lot about what I want and how to get it. I want a full and balanced life, and pushing myself to the breaking point is not the way to go about getting it.
- Fate happens. I was accepted to a study abroad program to London through my university and have the opportunity to study there for two weeks. London happens to be my favorite place in the world. I get so excited when I talk about it that I sound like a squirrel on speed. Which leads me to my next revelation:
- SLOW DOWN. It’s not NASCAR or the Amazing Race. It’s life, so enjoy it.
- My resume isn’t as important as I thought it was. If I’m missing out on longboarding, yoga, and taking care of myself, something is wrong. I am my first priority. Period.
- I hate my home state and immensely dislike 99% of the people in it.
- Most of the time, I don’t care if I get laid as long as I have potatoes and cats.
- I don’t need people to validate me. If you don’t go out of your way to spend time with me like I do for you, we aren’t really friends.
- My body is rockin’ and if you don’t agree that’s cool, because I didn’t ask you.
- Again…potatoes. They are all I think about.
- If you tell me that Benedict Cumberbatch is ugly and uninteresting, the chances of us becoming friends drops to 2%.
Okay, so the potatoes and cats aren’t the brightest revelations, but I would say that the rest of them are pretty legitimate. I’m a totally different human being and I’m incredibly happy. Because now I’m free to walk away and travel the world and basically do what I want. Which I could have done before, but sometimes you’re the only person standing in your way. Moral of the story: make time for yourself or you will become an emu.
I would love to say that I made some wonderful discovery, but if I had to narrow things down, the bottom line is that I’m not putting up with junk. I’m done with my junk, and if my junk isn’t welcome, neither is the junk that other people throw into my life.
End of story.