Saturday, February 24, 2024

Column: What I’ve learned about putting yourself first

"Eventually, I realized it was time to focus on me"

February 20, 2020

We all want to make college this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Everyone always tells us that it’s going to be the best four years of our lives. In order to live up to this whole college experience, we overload our schedules, try to sustain relationships, incorporate a social life and complete our schoolwork all simultaneously. We forget to eat, we forget to relax, we overwhelm ourselves with the amount of things we seem to always have left to do. While trying to attain the perfect college experience, I forgot the most important thing — to focus on myself. 

I never took the time to act selfishly and think about what I needed in the moment. I never took the time to just breathe. So, this is a friendly reminder to do just that — breathe. 

Second semester hit me like a ton of bricks. I was excited to return to campus after not seeing my best friends for a month. Michigan State was my new home, and I was ready to get back to it. What I didn’t realize was that this new semester wouldn’t be easy. It would be filled with a variety of complications like boys, social media, birth control and an overwhelming amount of schoolwork. 

Second semester came with classes that weren’t so fun. They were hard. I had also just joined the Honors College and needed to put more work in. They required me to study longer and devote more time to projects. 

Not only was school suffocating me, I was starting to feel lonely. I craved attention from any boy who would give it to me. Soon I developed feelings for one and became attached. However, it became evident I was devoting more time and effort into maintaining a relationship (or whatever we were) than he was. It was toxic. I was spending a lot of time obsessing over when he would text me, Snapchat me, reach out to me, ask me to hang out, etc. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into this hole that I didn’t need to be in. 

The final straw came when I saw him dancing with another girl at a frat party. Cue the eye roll. I needed to move on. I needed to invest in people who invested in me.  

Social media also led to my downfall. Since I craved attention from boys, people, anyone, I was on social media constantly, posting pictures just to see the likes go up and constantly checking Snapchat to see if he responded to me. I wanted anyone to like me. To notice me. I realized my behavior was becoming dangerous. Social media distracted me from school and work. It took me out of the real world and put me into one where we gloss over all our imperfections. 

Eventually, I realized it was time to focus on myself. My anxiety levels were through the roof (partly due to birth control), I wasn’t getting much sleep and I was skipping classes I really should have gone to. I wasn’t in a happy place and I constantly felt gross about myself. It was time to focus on what my body and mind needed. 


In order to prevent myself from burning out, I realized I needed to relax and do things for myself and not other people.

Lately, I have been taking steps to ensure that I am reaching my goals while also maintaining my mental health for my own sake. I’ve stopped investing time into relationships that clearly aren’t going anywhere. This includes romantic ones and friendships. 

I’ve started using my free time to my advantage. I’ve listened to what my body is saying. I’ve spent more time doing things that make me happy like hanging out with my friends, listening to music and writing. I actually go to all of my classes and don’t skip unless I have a valid reason. I turned my social media notifications off, because when a notification doesn’t pop up on my screen, I tend to check the apps less. I’m doing me right now and I can honestly say, it’s the best I have been in a while. 

So buy yourself those sunflowers if you want them. Eat that tub of ice cream without feeling guilty. Watch cringey movies with your friends and laugh till you cry. Wear those pants that make you feel badass. Spend a night in for once, or go out. Do whatever makes you feel good, happy and healthy.

We didn’t just come to college to further our education, we also came to further our lives and learn more about ourselves. In order to do that, we need to act selfishly sometimes, and that’s OK.

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