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Mental Health

The Problem With Expecting Too Much From Yourself

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be the best. I wanted to be the smartest, the most talented, the funniest, and the prettiest. I think this is a pretty universal human feeling. I have worked hard my whole life to be these things, but I never actually have been, and it has taken me a very long time to realize that that’s okay.

Lately, I have been kind of down on myself because I feel that in many aspects of my life, I am not trying hard enough. I think that I’m taking classes that are too easy, that I’m not rehearsing enough for my upcoming performances, and that I’m not spending enough time in the morning making myself presentable. When I find myself not having to study quite as much for a test as I would in a more difficult class, when I crack on a note that I should be able to sing, or when I look in the mirror and think that I could look better, all of these thoughts are intensified. It has created this pressure inside of me to be perfect that I really have not felt since high school. When I came to Kenyon, I thought it could be a fresh start, a chance to let myself breathe a little, a chance to ignore the intense competition I felt I needed in order to “win” in high school.

These feelings have been toxic to me. I’m constantly tired, but I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been lashing out at the people I love, or not talking to them at all. I’ve been incredibly stressed over the feeling that I’m not stressed enough. I have the overwhelming feeling that I’m not doing enough.

Girl Holding Her Knees
Breanna Coon / Her Campus

But, when taking a step back and looking at everything I have accomplished this year, everything I am currently doing to make my Kenyon experience a great one, I have realized that I may be being a bit too hard on myself.

In the midst of worrying about what I should be doing in relation to what everyone else is doing, I have forgotten to take care of myself. I have forgotten to congratulate myself on everything I am doing well, and instead, I’ve only been beating myself up over every tiny thing I feel I am doing wrong.

I think this experience has been a good lesson in self-care. I’m really glad I was able to take a step back and reevaluate how my life is right now because I want to be happy, and the way that I have been thinking has not made that possible.

I Want Proof

I know that I am not the only person who feels this way, the only person who feels as though the efforts they are making are not enough, and I don’t know if I would have realized that the way I’m feeling isn’t good for me if I hadn’t reached out to others for help. If you ever feel this way, just remember that talking to someone is never a bad idea as long as you’re talking to someone you trust and who has your best interest in mind. And, it may be cliche, but it’s also good to remember that you do not have to be better than everyone else; you just have to be the best you that you can be while still remaining mentally and physically healthy.​


Jenny Nagel

Kenyon '20

Jenny is a writer and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Kenyon. She is currently a senior English and Psychology double major at Kenyon College, and in her free time she loves to sing, cuddle cats, and fangirl over musicals.
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