I have to admit that I love college. I love the lifestyle, the freedom and the atmosphere. But there are some aspects I don’t necessarily love – the stress, the anxiety about the future and never knowing exactly who I am yet. I find myself sometimes wondering: What am I doing? What should I be doing? Why am I so broke? I know a lot of college students feel this way. The constant stress, pressure, anxiety and pit of the unknown can weigh a person down and take a toll on his/her mental health.
A lot of the time, college students ignore these mental weights and they stick to trying to succeed while the pressure grows stronger. They focus on everything else in the world instead of focusing on themselves. But I’m here to tell you that these students deserve to be put first. You deserve to put yourself first. Your #1 priority should be yourself. By putting yourself first, things will start to feel different. Life will get easier to handle.
I can testify to this. In high school, I was a people pleaser. Everyone had to be accepting of what I did (teachers, friends, peers, family, etc.) and I tried to make sure everyone was happy. I wanted to have everything planned out perfectly while acing my classes. Doing all this came with a high price tag. I soon became a worry-ridden person. Anything less than an A meant I was failing myself and my parents. I over planned and spent more time planning than doing. Lastly, I found out that you really cannot make everyone happy. The most important thing was if I was happy, and I wasn’t. I kept putting myself last.
I know that focusing on everyone else may seem selfless and the right thing to do but it will break you in the end. Putting yourself first and doing things for yourself isn’t selfish – it is how you survive. It can be how you fall in love with life. So what does putting yourself first look like? It looks however you want it to look. For me, it’s taking a walk outside when it’s beautiful out. It’s going to the mall to window shop on a Saturday afternoon. It’s running at the gym to calm myself down. It’s painting my nails, writing for hours or having an extra cup of coffee. It’s saying no to someone when you already have enough work of your own (and I promise you, it’s okay to say no sometimes).
You put yourself first whenever and however you want because you need to keep your mental health healthy. It can be easy to get tied down by the stress and pressure and feel the need to be a people-pleaser, but this is your life. You only get one and you don’t owe anything to any other person. You just owe it to yourself to take a breath, to handle bumps in the road and to be happy. You deserve to be happy. Take care of yourself first.