It's okay to take the year off

The brightness from my phone sucks the mucus out of my eyes as I scroll through my social media feeds. I’m nestled in a blanket with my pup sound asleep next to me, I check the time — 2:30 a.m., yet again. I should probably get some sleep right now, or at least soon. 

Before the coronavirus, I was up every night until 2:30 a.m. doing my homework, writing an article, sometimes still in the newsroom just being productive — or attempting to be. Now, I’ve spent my nights glued to my phone and comparing myself to others, both habits that have exacerbated themselves since the start of quarantine. All of a sudden, I feel even worse than I’ve felt pre-COVID. 

I used to wake up at 5:30 a.m. two to three times a week, running on two to four hours of sleep, six if it’s a good night. I take my 35 to 40-minute commute to Cal State Fullerton, then I either sleep once arriving on campus or force myself to stay up and do work till my first class of the day. By the time the newspaper has been submitted and I’ve been picked up from school, I’m in bed by 2:30 a.m. — sometimes until 3:30 a.m. — then the cycle repeats itself for the rest of the semester all while juggling studying, work and responsibilities at home in between. 

It was nothing a little coffee or an energy drink couldn’t fix. 

However, even when everyone around me felt like I was breaking my back for this lifestyle that I lived every day for years, there was always this thought that lingered from the time I woke every morning to the time my head hits the pillow at night: You aren’t doing enough. You need to get your act together because you’re still not giving it your all to x,y and z. 

It’s an ongoing battle of never feeling like I’m enough. Never dedicating enough time. Never amounting to being a good friend, sister, girlfriend, daughter, student, club president, pet owner, editor, reporter, writer — literally anything and everything. I felt like I was doing everything I could, but at the same time, nothing at all, living in a permanent paradox. 

In spite of the support from my friends and family, constantly telling me to take a break, always reminding me how proud they are, having more faith in me than I do in myself; the saying still reigns true — you are your own worst enemy. 

It’s easy to cut unsupportive and reckless people out of your life, but it’s harder when that person is the one you stare at in the mirror; they are in your head and won’t leave you alone. 

I’ve always felt that all my accomplishments and opportunities have been primarily through luck. Whether it was being at the right place at the right time or knowing the right people, I find any excuse to not give myself credit for anything I’ve done besides being present. 

But since quarantine, I’ve felt even worse. Now it feels like I have the time, but I’m not being effective with it. Even though I have even more responsibilities at home than before, and I’m still juggling nearly everything I had in my life prior to the coronavirus, I still feel the need to do more to truly feel accomplished. It’s as though I’m constantly chasing something I will never attain. 

In the midst of continuously feeling inadequate, I learned that I’m not the only one. Some of my closest friends feel the same way about their lives, especially during quarantine, even though they are the same friends who I look up to, who inspire me and make me proud. 

I’m not usually this open. I’d rather treat everything as a joke than dwell on these topics for too long, much less tell people about it. But I realized that this is important, because many of us live behind layers that we choose not to talk about. 

Although these are feelings I still struggle with, I’m here to tell you that I’m your voice of reason in this boat that seems as if it’s sinking — we will get through this, together. You may not know who I am, much less know my face, but know that you aren’t alone in your feelings. 

You are enough. You are worthy of every opportunity placed in front of you, of every position you currently hold in your life. Don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself credit. 

Even when things feel like they’re crumbling around you, the most important voice to listen to is your own. Write out those feelings, reflect and realize that you are the person you want to be. But if you aren’t happy with who you are, then don’t give up, because you’ll make it there and be an even better person than you envisioned. 

It’s time for us to stop being our own worst enemy, and start becoming our own biggest fan.

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