Written by Gena Crepault
A week and a half ago, I quit something that I love.
Ordinarily, I’d be angry against myself. I preach “do the things you love” like it’s the only thing in this world that I know is true. But after this emotionally draining morning, I tried to pinpoint the one thing that had triggered the avalanche of emotion. In typical university student fashion, it was stress. I traced metaphorical footsteps back in my mind and attempted to feel out what was putting so much stress on me, and it turned out to be a position for an event that I hold close to my heart. The realization sucked the air out of me. Event management brings me so much satisfaction – planning for months, pulling so many ends together, and then having something to be so proud of, because you brought it to life. And I’m good at event management. But going into my third year chairing the event, I needed it to be perfect. I couldn’t expect any less from myself. I knew exactly what to do, but coupled with graduation on the horizon, other extracurriculars, work, my social life, school, and a handful of other factors, it felt like I was drowning. So I quit.
The decision didn’t come as easily as I may be making it seem. If we rewind a bit to earlier that day, we’d see me lying in bed, watching episode after episode of TV, dirty plates from breakfast and lunch piled around me in my bed. We’d see me crying in the shower, for no apparent reason. We’d see me, standing at my bathroom sink holding onto the counter, knuckles white, because I seemed to have no energy to even hold myself upright, despite having slept over 10 hours. It felt like with every breath I took, on every exhale, my soul was deflating a little bit more.
Don’t ever let your soul deflate.
Your list of extracurriculars and jobs don’t define you. Your resume will reflect your interests and maybe your hard skills, but it won’t reflect that you’re a person that loves hard and fast. Your extracurriculars and work should also never, ever come before your mental health. People say it all the time, but to me at least (as I’m sure it does for many), it felt like an empty statement. Sure, yeah, I won’t let my commitments come before my mental health. But that gets lost when you’re so focused on getting through your day and replying to those emails and making it on time to your meetings and just plainly slotting in time to eat and shower and sleep. It gets lost as soon as you think about your career aspirations and all the things you need to do to set yourself apart from the thousands of people around you. But a friend I look up to once told me that there will always, always be opportunities. You may choose to shut a door quietly because it just wasn’t the right time and you couldn’t handle it, but later on, another door will open.
University can a blessing and a downright curse sometimes.
You’re surrounded by so many passionate, intelligent, talented go-getters, and it’s amazing. But, you’re surrounded by so many passionate, intelligent, talented go-getters. It’s natural to compare and to use your peers as a benchmark on how hard you should push yourself. Don’t fall victim to the pressures of comparison. Take on what you can, and take pride in your own competencies. Learn to take note of your energy levels and your views on your involvements. Are you exhausted all the time? Are you still as passionate about the things you do as you were when you first started? Pay close attention, because you know yourself better than anyone else. It’s something that I myself will have to work on. It shouldn’t have taken a miserable morning feeling like I was simultaneously on the brink of a panic attack and in a state of utter helplessness for me to realize that I had too much on my plate.