protect yourself from yourself → by Nee Thomas
Hello guys! A little remix from the norm since I am not the Halcyon Girl, but you can call me Nee. I am a 25-year-old college grad working my way to graduate school and trying to figure my life out, all at the same time.
My secret imaginary life on the west coast never made it to reality but hey, I’ll get there eventually. It’s especially hard when my real family is down in real Cancún, really living it up! Did I mention that they moved there only after I started my freshman year? Yeah, that totally happened and they’re so rude for it. But, in a way, I guess it was kind of a good thing.
I suffer from mild depression and anxiety. And I never realized this until after I left for college. I come from a very loving and supportive family that saw no wrong in anything that I did. I was excellent in high school having straight A’s, being the cheerleading captain and having many friends. Life was great. And that great life transferred over to college but it didn’t last long.
Actually, it lasted until approximately that December of my freshman year, when hell broke out. And by hell, I mean finals week (cue the background screams).
I had really spent the majority of the semester partying, then forgetting deadlines, skipping class and everything in between. You never know how much you screwed yourself until you’re running up to your professor’s offices asking for extra credit. Nonetheless, I actually did well enough on my finals to float to the next semester. And to the disappointment of my 25 year old self, my 19 year old self did not learn her lesson and continued to party. Except, this time it didn’t feel the same.
Somewhere along that time frame I realized that I wasn’t happy anymore. Going out felt like a chore; I started having feelings of being ashamed of myself. I had big plans for my career and it didn’t consist of being alone and drunk in a club, not knowing where my friends were. Meanwhile, I was still missing assignments because going out that Thursday, Friday and Saturday felt most important. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to get myself together and start making class more of a priority. So much so that I developed a pessimistic attitude and a side of anxiety. I was my biggest critic—I know that pretty much everyone feels that way, but I was going overboard. I wouldn’t let myself live if I was even one minute late to class. If I didn’t make an 85 or higher on a test then you could find me at home in my shower crying. It was so unhealthy but at the time I didn’t realize what was going on with me. These emotions would just overcome me and I knew exactly what to say to myself to put me over the edge. Next thing you know, I was a ball of tears in my bed refusing to leave my room. Sometimes my roommates would call me because they’d thought I’d left for the weekend, I was so quiet. But these were on my worst days.
On my best days, I had a whole other monster to tackle. That monster being that I compare myself to any and everyone. It built off my previous issue combined with a toxic relationship (which is another story for another day). Those together catapulted me into a whole other state entirely. First it was my grades. I’d make a 92 on a test which was great, but then someone would make a 95 and I’d be livid at myself for the rest of the day.
Eventually, this became out of control when I started getting virtual slaps in the face on a daily basis (thanks Instagram!). Degrading myself was like breathing; it came so naturally to me.
If I had a good hair day, I was looking at the girl who’s hair looked better than mine. If I felt good about my body, I would seek out a girl who had a better one. This led me right back to where I started with skipping class which led to missing assignments. It was a vicious cycle.
Now I know through all of this you’re wondering what I am getting at but I want you to take two lessons from my early college experiences. The first would surprise you but...
#1 It is okay to skip class today.
Yeah, I said it. And yeah, I mean it. It is totally okay to take a day off if you’re just not feeling it. Now look, lets not get crazy and skip a whole week. Don’t be that girl, AKA don’t be me. There is a difference between a personal day and just out right skipping. Plus, what’s the fun if you aren’t ever going to class? It ruins the special day designed around sitting in bed, eating microwavable meals and watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta. No, really. A day off allows you a break from the craziness. It allows you to unwind and mentally get yourself together so that you don’t have a breakdown and skip school all together.
The goal is to resolve yourself from some of the daily challenges in your life, not to create more.
#2 Try to be realistic when you compare yourself.
I’m not going to tell you to stop comparing yourself to others. That is a part of life and everyone does it. The difference between others and I is that I was just outright comparing unnecessary things. If you woke up today and your makeup was poppin’, and you go to school and another girl’s makeup is poppin’, y’all can pop together. You both looked great that day. Comparing oneself can be healthy in small doses, for example, if you are not doing well in class and there is a star pupil that you can learn from, then do that. See what they’re doing that you are not and try to incorporate some of that and learn from it.
There is no need to compare. No need to put yourself down.
Mental illness means working extra hard to get through the day. Some people don’t truly understand what goes on through no fault of their own. Same goes for us not being able to understand everyone else’s struggles. It’s life, and hopefully my story will help you navigate yours a little better. Be mindful and protect yourself, even if you are the one you’re protecting yourself from.
Cheers and good luck with finals!
Thanks for taking the time to read my piece on the Halcyon Girl!
If you’d like to keep up with me, you can follow me on my Instagram: @aneishathomas.