The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.
It’s been one of those days. You failed that math test you studied really hard for, you’ve got a stack of homework almost as tall as you are, you could count on your fingers the number of times you’ve exercised in the last month, and all you want to do is curl up with a really soft blanket and a bag of Animal Crackers to drown in your sorrows. Maybe you feel like you can’t do anything right. You aren’t x enough – smart enough, fast enough, strong enough. And all of these thoughts start to spiral you down into a deep dark hole.
We all go through it.
Humans in general put untold amounts of stress on themselves, but I would say it’s even worse right between junior year of high school and sophomore year of college. This is when we’re told that everything really matters – grades matter, looks matter, and what we love matters. We work really hard to get into a good college, and then we’re told that we need to figure out what to do with ourselves. Are we ever really sure that we’re doing the right thing? All of these pressures from our parents, our professors, our peers, and ourselves can really do a number on one’s self-confidence. When it feels like the world never stops questioning you, it’s hard not to question yourself as well.
I understand your struggle. We live in one of the fittest places on earth and go to one of the most competitive universities in the country. You may feel like Atlas with the world on your shoulders, or like Sisyphus rolling that the rock uphill when it perpetually rolls back down again. Let’s try to put some things in perspective here.
First of all, I know how easy it is to question your own choices, especially about things like your major and where you’re going to school. Believe me, I had my moments of wondering if my major was right for me, or if it would get me anywhere in life. Sit back and actually think about it for a second: why did you choose the major you did? Was it because your parents or college counselor told you that’s what you should do, or did you do it because you can’t imagine doing anything else? The German poet Rilke said that when one experiences a moment of doubt, go deep into yourself and ask, “Must I do this?” If you feel like you absolutely must do something – whether that be studying engineering, math, or being an artist – then do it. No restrictions. And if what you’re doing isn’t making you happy, then make the change. Search for what makes your heart sing and do it, because that is what is going to get you places.
Remember that there is something about you that is uniquely and totally yours. We get told all the time that we need to stand out; first, to get into a good college, then to get into a good grad school, and then to get a good job. That doesn’t mean you have to be a piano prodigy or process math better than a calculator. Think about the things that make you special. All of us have our talents, even if it’s as simple as being a good listener or being able to make people smile. These are the traits that will lend to your success later in your life.
Our minds are not the only things that suffer from insecurities. Our bodies suffer from it, too. You may look in the mirror and start poking and prodding, wishing certain things were smaller, thinner or more toned.
Be as kind to yourself as you can. If you feel that something needs to change, then change it. It really is that simple. I don’t mean go on a drastically different diet or vow to exercise two hours every day. And don’t think of it in terms of the numbers on a scale or the way clothing fits – trust me, it doesn’t help anything. Instead, think of it like you’re treating yourself with love. Loving yourself means taking care of your body and mind. Remind yourself everyday that you are incredible, because you are.
Feeling good about yourself is a very personal thing, and it’s something that everyone struggles with. College is a particularly challenging time, because it feels like we have to prove ourselves over and over again. We have to show everyone what we’re made of, and that can be intimidating. In the end though, the most important opinion of yourself comes from – you guessed it – yourself.
Contact Independent Staff Writer Hannah Morrison at Hamo7004@colorado.edu