Changing Leaves: Slow and steady wins the race

It’s really easy to compare ourselves to others—how they dress, their intelligence, their jobs, their social lives—and find ourselves feeling like we aren’t where we “should” be. On top of this, social media really doesn’t help to slow down this angry feeling we conjure against ourselves. The truth is, in the most clichéd sense, we don’t know what’s happening in their lives. But more importantly, your present-day wishes might become your future reality, even though it doesn’t feel like life could stop sucking.

I’m at a point in my life where I feel really disappointed in myself. I’ve had to let go of a lot of my goals, including travel plans and a spring 2023 convocation, and honestly, I feel super behind in life. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not way behind my classmates or my friends, and that I am not a failure incapable of handling any stress. 

Burnout isn’t easy to deal with because your mind and body are at complete odds with each other. Your mind tells you to get up, do your assignments weeks early, and complete tasks as soon as they’re given to you. Meanwhile, your body urges you to rest, to stay still, and to not care about a lousy test, assignment, or responsibility at work. 

I started off this semester doing all my readings a week early. By the fifth week, I “fell behind” in readings—meaning that I was doing them the week they were meant to be assigned. Saying I felt guilty and stupid is an understatement. My brain tricked me into thinking self-worth must be connected to academic and financial success. 

In all honesty, I don’t have it all worked out, and that scares me. But what I’m trying to remember is that we are all on our own journeys. Nobody has written down a law saying we must graduate high school at 18 or that we need to finish university in four years. Nobody said we need to find a job as soon as we graduate and spend the rest of eternity at our nine-to-five. 

Life is simply living as well as we can at the pace that is asked of us. What use are we if we’re too tired or scared or paralyzed to function? What use am I if I continue to stress myself out so much that I feel paralyzed from the waist down and am terrified that all my muscles ache to the point where I can’t pull myself out of bed?

If I continue to be angry with myself for not performing as well as I would like to—because I’m burnt out—what use is it if I keep throwing myself into the fire? Not setting aside any time for rest and relaxation is a disservice to myself, and it keeps me further away from my goals. 

I’m trying to listen to my body, and right now, I’m forcing myself to do the absolute minimum to pass my classes. Yes, I am upset with myself, and I will be disappointed if I fail, but I know that if I continue on this path, I will never rid myself of the horrible workaholic, anxiety-ridden lifestyle that I have now. 

I hope you learn to be kind to yourself and to cherish your body. You can’t help others or yourself if you are absolutely exhausted. 

Changing Leaves Columnist (Volume 49); Managing Editor (May–November, Volume 49) — Aia is a fourth-year student studying Psychology and completing a double minor in French and Philosophy. She became a Staff Writer for The Medium in the 2021-2022 publishing year and was determined the team couldn’t get rid of her so soon. In her spare time, she can be found café hopping in the hopes to find the best iced chai in the GTA, writing her weirdly complex thoughts down in her notes app, or taking a million pictures a day of her friends. Aia hopes that students find The Medium and feel the sense of belonging she has felt. You can connect with Aia on Linkedin.


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