Unexpected Breaks Aren’t Always Bad

I know I said that I would try to no leave this blog without any posts when I took another break, but this one was totally unexpected, and while I taking my break, I went through so much that I need to share.

That being said, I want to talk about taking unplanned breaks. Unplanned breaks are probably one of the best things that you could do for yourself mentally. As a college student who is stressed pretty much from sun up to sun down, I find myself constantly looking for a break from the madness. Last Monday I had every intention on pushing through til my upcoming break from school this Thursday. That clearly was not what happened. I found myself juggling my personal life and my academic life, struggling to help volunteer with the group I had committed to at the beginning of the semester, and I was balancing issues with my bank (whole other story coming up later). With all this, plus homework and cleaning I found myself not having any time for myself, which led me to be stressed out even more later on.

But taking that break, while I was still connected to the internet and fully aware of all the foolishness going on, I realized that I have had yet to do something for me and solely for me. As the oldest of eight children and the youngest one still being in diapers, I have always been the one to care for my family at the expense of myself. This wasn’t something I had to consciously think about; it was always second nature to me. When I left for college, I thought I would finally have the ability to be a little selfish and not have to think about anyone but myself. Instead, I found myself pouring my energy into comforting and nurturing my friends, even when they didn’t really need it.

Coming to Duke was a life-changer for me. I finally gained some weight (I had been on the skinny side and never really felt too comfortable with myself), I found a group of friends who I know I can count on for advice or to just hang out, and I found myself coming to the major I loved and throwing myself into it passionately. Being at Duke has been a completely different experience, and as I gear up to return to Austin for the first time in so long, I look forward to seeing how I’ve changed in the past year and a half. But I know that I need to do things for myself, and that is going to have to be a main focus.

I usually am a workaholic. Class, my part time job at the library, studying ahead, reading what I can to supplement. It’s all very rewarding mentally, and I thank my lucky stars for having that glorious privilege, because I am completely aware that it is a privilege, not a right. But I find myself stumped when people ask me what I like to do for fun. I find myself telling them that I love listening to music or hanging out with friends, but when I take a step back and look at things, I realize that I have yet to actually do anything by itself. It’s always accompanied by studying or getting some kind of work.

Blogging is something I found for me. I’m a writer, always have been, and I love giving my views on things that get me passionate. But I guess it’s the ability to take things and have them to myself, to understand that they are just for me, that make me place them low on my priority list. I don’t do anything to be a martyr, trust me, that would be a terrible role to have in life. But I have become so conditioned to let my personal life be put on the back burner when it comes to conflict in life, that that’s often the case. So I have decided that from this point on, for the rest of my birthday month, I will be writing and posting every day. Even when I don’t necessarily want to. Taking care of myself shouldn’t have to be something I put aside because I’m stressed, and I refuse to do it any longer. Taking care of myself means being happy with myself, and I cannot be happy with myself if I don’t spend any time with myself.

What are some things that you do for self care? What does your “me” time look like?

-JW

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