At the beginning of each school year, in September, you have the opportunity to do things differently. September allows you to say, “Fuck last year, I’m going to make this year better” in terms of academics, romantic or sexual relationships, personal experiences, or anything else that you want to improve upon. So what if you had a bad first, second, or third year at Tufts? You’re going to try 3 million new things this year to become more organized, make new friends, get perfect grades, achieve perfect health, apply for 20 jobs, join 30 new clubs, become President, AND catch up on that sleep you haven’t gotten since middle school.
…Okay, so maybe it won’t be that extreme–but to some extent you (or even family, friends, or significant others) may end up putting pressure on yourself to be an extremely well-functioning person this year. Many of us have this expectation of ourselves that we have to be perfect, and if we’re not perfect, then we’re not doing things right. We then try to change and become “the ideal student” by doing some version of what I mentioned above, but it doesn’t always work out the way we planned. Oftentimes, we stumble somewhere along the way and end up disappointed in ourselves for not doing everything exactly the way we said we would. If other people are putting these pressures on us, we might feel guilty for not giving them what they want. In short, we want to be this:
But we end up like this:
I’m here to tell you that is okay. It is okay not to live up to your own or others’ expectations of you. In fact, depending on what those expectations are, they might be physically impossible to achieve (like that goddamn Perfection game, which still haunts me 10+ years later). I know it’s easier said than done, but take a step back and evaluate what you can actually do this semester. Can you really handle 6 classes, a long-distance relationship, a varsity sport, four clubs, and a part-time job and still manage to be sane? If the answer is yes, damn, I don’t know how to you do it. If the answer is no–like me–don’t get down on yourself about it. Everyone has their own limit of how much they can handle, and just because your limit is less than your neighbor’s doesn’t mean that you are less of a person than them. There is no wrong way to be a person.
I want to acknowledge that while you do always have room for growth, all plants grow at different speeds. So do humans. Don’t push yourself so hard that you burn out, and don’t get down on yourself if you have to drop a class, leave a toxic friendship, take a semester off, or do something else that makes you feel like you can breathe again. Take a breath of that fresh September air, and breathe out all of those unreachable expectations that you have weighing on you. You are amazing just as you are.
And if you’re struggling with letting go of those expectations, or grappling with any beginning-of-semester issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to Ears for Peers. Our numbers are listed on our Contact Us page, which I have conveniently linked for you right here even though there’s already a link for it in the menu, because I am a nice person. As all Ears are. 😀
Now, go kick September’s ass.