In high school, I was a very headstrong student. I told myself that I could do it all, I balanced babysitting my younger sister, volunteering, working, extracurriculars, school, and whatever life had to throw at me. I slept about 4 hours a night and was happy that I was doing so much while still exceeding at school. This mindset is warped and dangerous and only fueled my stress and sadness during the quiet moments in the night where my head would be racing as I thought about my to-do list for the next day.
I brought this mindset with me to Tufts. I took 5 courses every single semester up until now (my spring Junior year), I balanced two jobs, being on e-boards, being a research assistant, helping my parents with bills and translating documents, and having a social life. Waking up every day felt like I was racing against time. I would sleep 7-8 hours daily but would have no free time for anything else.
Starting junior year I decided to take a step back. I was so tired of beating myself up for not completing my to-do list of 15 items, skipping meals because I had so much work to do, and bailing on hangouts because I wanted to get ahead in my classes. I cut down to 4 classes, 1 e-board, and 3 doable jobs this semester. I took more time out of my day to cook nourishing meals, pick out an outfit that made me feel confident, sleep more, and actually spend my evenings with friends. I am learning to treat myself better.
Despite this, I still found it very difficult to say no to opportunities and requests. To professors who would ask me to help them out with a project, to my graduate lab managers who would ask for my assistance on a research task, to clubs who wanted me on their e-board. I would sit in front of my screen, mouse hovered over the send button of an email of rejection. I feared for their response, afraid that they would see me as lazy or I didn’t care enough about them. It was definitely an irrational fear.
Eventually, I sought out professional help to help me change my thinking and cope with my stress. Now, I can proudly say that I am a little LESS afraid to say no! I am learning to invest in my health, my social life, and my overall well-being. This semester has been an incredible semester of learning outside of the classroom! Although I still hover over that send button, I don’t feel the wash of fear that comes after. I’m taking things step by step and I am glad that I have people to support me along the way.