**Written on March 27th, 2017**
Man, today was rough.
When I was sick, and then “recovering”, and then relapsing, and the whole nine yards, I’d keep daily journal entries in my phone and update myself throughout my miserable days. Once I truly stuck to recovery and my life began to improve, I found no need to furiously type away my emotions into my Notes app. My days of emotional turmoil and distress were behind me.
For the most part.
I’m human. Every now and then I have these days where I just get hit with a wave of distress. I can never really explain them. But I’ll try. Today went a little something like this:
I wake up, and it’s hard. My body feels like lead. Without permission, my heart whisks my brain into a vicious dreamland where I can’t see any purpose to my life, where I feel so lonely and lost and directionless. The day will go on, I’ll embark on my morning routine. But something inside me feels like it could swallow me whole. I feel passionless. I go to the gym but feel no inclination to do anything. I go to class and can’t focus, trapped in a brain fog, berating myself for not being able to follow along and absorb the information. I find myself in the library between classes and volunteering. I just got swamped with an unmanageable amount of assignments. The overflow of work triggers the fear centers within me. I panic. I gloss over each class’ excessive workload and feel as if I don’t understand any of it. My attention span feels embarrassingly small. I open my math textbook and begin the 30+ problems that I have two days to do. Math is my weakness, my downfall. I spend twenty minutes on one problem and feel the tears forming as I squeeze my fists in frustration. I feel so OVERWHELMED. There’s too much to do. I have the gym, two classes, volunteer tutoring, a scholar’s event, and all of this homework. On top of these obligations I have to find time to eat and shower and at one point I even find myself trying to schedule in my stops to pee. Today, the world just feels like too much.
My to-do list, both short-term and long-term, seemed to multiply by the second. Today was an emotional train wreck. I felt as if I was pushing myself too hard, trying to read sixty pages of East Asian History in the mere half hour I had before spending two hours tutoring my student, racing back to campus to crunch out some more problems in the library before darting off to the program’s event. On the walks between obligations, I FaceTimed my mom with a trembling voice and tears that threatened to flood my cheeks. I couldn’t explain why I was crying, what was wrong. I was just overwhelmed, and the world felt heavy and I felt helpless and for some unexplainable reason, I just felt as if I had no potential. I felt that all tasks being asked of me would not only be impossible to complete, but to even understand. Brain fog. Extreme brain fog. That’s all I can term it as.
College has brought me a handful of these days, and in them I have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. By expressing these fears and metaphorical weights to my family and friends, I felt a release. I reached out to my best friends, one who cheered me up with a video chat and the other who left me a voicemail that I’ve listened to repeatedly all evening. Just hearing my mom’s voice grounded me, reminded me that I’m not alone.
Our minds can play wild tricks on us. I know what it feels like to be trapped in a depression, and to experience extreme anxiety. While I am thriving and healthy and happy in my current life, I am no less human. These depressive and anxiety-ridden traits sometimes attack when I least expect it, and that’s life. How I choose to handle them and reflect on them is up to me. Fate had it that this terrible, no good day took place on the same day as the scholar program colloquium for tonight, titled “Grit”. Tonight, a group of like-minded people met together to discuss what grit means to us in our education and beyond. Collaborating with fellow students and intellectuals truly opened my eyes. My peers had such powerful insights as to what grit is, so much so that at some points I found myself taking their words and implementing them into my own life, seeing them ring true.
After the discussion, I felt ten times better. We talked about how grit is a next-level perseverance, a toil with failure on the way to success. Having grit means dedicating yourself to your goals and working toward them with complete diligence. With grit comes passion. Exercising grit requires you to push yourself, to exceed your limits and self-expectations. But my favorite piece that was contributed was the notion that when exercising grit, one also has to stay mindful. “Grit”. It’s a word that sounds so relentless and tough, so macho if you will. However, to truly succeed and be happy, you have to put yourself first. If your goals are doing more harm than good, then stop. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Only push yourself in ways that you can handle. Take a step back to reflect. Grit isn’t a non-stop process. Work hard and rise above failures, but don’t beat yourself up.
Today, I needed to be reminded of this. I tend to overwhelm myself with my work, my extracurriculars, my passions. On days where I find myself in this emotional hurricane, in this overwhelmed state of mind, I have to step back and reflect. What does grit mean to me? It means working hard to put myself and my wellness above all. My dad called me tonight and, as usual, lifted my spirits. He told me that all my work will get done, that I’m doing so well in all fields of life and that my health comes before anything. This day has physically and mentally exhausted me, and he picked up on that right away. My own father told me to put the schoolwork on the back burner. Call out of tutoring if I mentally can’t handle it today. Take a deep breath and a hot shower and make a good meal. Without your health and your stability, you have nothing.
I knew I needed to vent out about this day because it was just SO. MUCH. I couldn’t think of any better way than to share it than a blog post. I don’t know how many of you can relate, but I do hope that if you ever find yourself in a fleeting slump, remind yourself to reflect. That you don’t have to push yourself to a breaking point. Have the grit to put yourself above all else.