I often find myself at 4 am, unable to sleep. It’s not that I’m not tired, because I’m exhausted; I just can’t turn my mind off. Thoughts relentlessly pour in, and I’m left thinking of ridiculous things like embarrassing situations that happened to me 7 years ago and having an existential crisis over how I have no clue what I’m doing with my life. I’m fighting these thoughts, trying to clear my mind, pushing every thought out and focusing on silence. Then my heart starts speeding up and I have to sit up because my breathing’s shallowed. My lungs are gasping for air and my thoughts are racing at speeds I can barely keep up with.
I’ve struggled through 4 years of university, fighting off anxiety and panic attacks over what I was going to do with my life (as if we’re actually supposed to know the answer to this at such a young age), never feeling good enough for anything and miscellaneous thoughts that other people probably don’t give the time of day. I would wake up at 3am sweating and my heart beating so fast that it felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I’d developed such terrible eating habits that most days I just didn’t feel like eating, I simply wasn’t hungry. I knew this was no way to live if I wanted to keep my mental and physical health in check. I needed to get away from the stress filled environment of school and focus on me for a bit. I knew that I wasn’t broken quite yet, but if I kept letting that little voice in my head convince me I wasn’t good enough, then I was well on my way.
There’s really no easy way to admit that you can’t handle what small plate of responsibilities you’ve been given but it was what I needed to do. Taking time off to basically sit around and do nothing wasn’t something I expected to miraculously fix me, but I did think it would give me time to sort through everything and figure out why this was happening. The panic attacks didn’t stop, they just became less frequent. When taken away from stressors and pressures of school, I realized that I wasn’t losing my mind, I was just a regular kid. A kid who didn’t stop to think for herself until now — to consider what she actually wanted out of life and eventually that had caught up to me. I’d gone to university not because I knew that was what I wanted but because that what I thought was expected of me.
After a lot of introspection and sleepless nights, I realized that I had spent so much time focusing on the future and where I was going that I had forgotten to do the one thing we’re put on earth to do: live. It’s so easy to get caught up in the undertow of life, but it’s important to never forget to be alive, to keep going. The important things in life are not material objects or titles but the little details that make us all individuals.
You are not the degree you have.
You are not the degree you don’t have.
You are not your job.
You are not your salary.
You are not your insecurities.
You are not your anxiety.
You are not your depression.
You are not the measures you need to take to control your anxiety and depression.
You are not the times you’ve fallen down or gotten lost.
You are not the shitty cards you’ve been dealt.
You are not how many followers or friends you have.
You are not your reputation.
You are not your fears.
You ARE your favorite record.
You ARE your reaction to the shitty cards you’ve been dealt.
You ARE your biggest dreams.
You ARE the times you’ve felt invincible.
You ARE the things that inspire you.
You ARE where your mind goes when you daydream.
You ARE your own opinion of yourself.
You ARE the strength it took to pick yourself back up and keep going when the odds were against you.
You ARE the book you’ve read so many times that words are worn off the pages.
You ARE the people who make you want to be a better person.
You ARE the moments you’ve stood up for what you believe in.
Most importantly, you ARE enough.