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The Importance of Showing Up For Yourself

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

In a society that seems to be moving faster than ever, it can be easy to get lost in the sources of instant gratification we have around us. It may feel easy to get attached to unsustainable methods of fulfillment, like social media, academic validation, work achievements, and personal or romantic relationships. All of these things, coupled with the right attitude, can be great things, but the right attitude comes from finding fulfillment within oneself before seeking it elsewhere. 

I’ll admit that this is a lesson I’m still trying to teach myself. It can often feel like I’m juggling so many things–school, work, stress, friendships, future plans, hobbies, exercise, etc.–that it’s hard to keep up, let alone maintain a good relationship with myself. Only when I become completely overwhelmed does it become clear that I have not been paying enough attention to how I’m actually feeling. College often feels like you have to move at full speed 24/7 in order to not fall behind, but that is why addressing your needs over your schedule’s needs is important to remember. 

A good starting point is physical health. I try to make sure I’m fueling my body with healthy foods, and fueling my soul with delicious foods. Cooking is also something I’ve found to be therapeutic, as well as rewarding. It feels like an accomplishment, however small, to sit down to a meal that I made with my own hands. But I’ll also never turn down an invite to go get some ice cream–even if it’s me inviting myself. Also important is finding an enjoyable way to regularly exercise. While I’m not a big gym-goer myself, I’ve been encouraging myself to tag along with my roommate when she goes. Making time to get back into an old sport and taking advantage of the beautiful hikes we have here in SLO are two of my other favorite ways to incorporate exercise into my schedule. 

Another element of showing up for yourself is caring for your mental health. I have been wrestling with anxiety for years now, and the stress of being a college student only seems to be growing these days. I used to tell myself that I would eventually “face” my anxiety, that I would finally have the time to take action to get rid of it, but I’ve been learning that there may never be an end to my anxiety–and that’s okay. It’s more about waking up every day and finding a helpful mindset, not letting my anxiety envelop me. Facing anxiety doesn’t always mean coming at it full force; for me, it means reminding myself to take deep breaths, to push myself outside of my comfort zone when appropriate, remember my boundaries when necessary, and hold on to positive thoughts. It helps me just to acknowledge my stress, figure out what’s causing it, and find a way to manage it, rather than either trying to conquer it or crumbling beneath it. Things like taking the time to exercise, being out in nature or just in the sunlight, and making the time for hobbies that are important to me are great ways for me to calm my mind as well. 

A big lesson I’ve recently learned is to slow down. We go to school in a gorgeous place in the world, and I have made it a goal to soak up as much of that beauty as possible, which is something I can’t do if I’m filling my class schedule to the brim and spending all of my time on schoolwork. Good time management and course planning allows room for breaks. I have important academic goals for myself, but if I can only achieve them by overwhelming myself, it’s not worth it. I’m allowing myself to readjust my academic goals to allow space for personal goals as well, because I shouldn’t cost myself being a person just to be a high-achieving student. 

I have definitely been guilty of focusing too much on the kind of outside gratification I mentioned before. I’m teaching myself now that if I’m not showing up for myself, it won’t matter who else shows up for me. The more I care for myself, the better off I’ll be, and the better I can welcome other people into my life. I can’t sit around waiting for someone else’s help, I have to support myself regardless of who else does. Other people will come and go, but what’s certain is that you have yourself, so put in the effort to take care of you

Emily Middleton

Cal Poly '26

I was born and raised in California and I am an English major at Cal Poly hoping to become a high school English teacher. I am excited to be able to further my passion for writing through Her Campus.