Time for a wellness check: how are you doing? How is your mental and physical health? Are you feeling burnt out or exhausted? It’s the end of the semester and exams are winding down; I’m certain you are not the picture of peak wellbeing, and that’s okay.
University is challenging under normal circumstances; in the midst of a global pandemic and a third lockdown, university is immeasurably difficult. Yet, as a generation, we have been overlooked as sufferers throughout this pandemic, and as we become increasingly surrounded by tragedy and hardship, it becomes increasingly difficult to acknowledge the ways in which we have struggled and, ultimately, overcome.
Now is the perfect time to do exactly that, acknowledge all the work you’ve done this year and give yourself the credit you deserve for making it through.
It is easy to be hypercritical of ourselves and see our faults before our victories. In our current circumstance, it is especially easy to find issues with ourselves, the things we are or aren’t doing or how we feel. This is especially true for university students; it is particularly hard not to be critical of ourselves or compare ourselves to others, especially when much of our validation is rooted in academic accomplishment. If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling kind of discouraged about your marks and definitely disappointed in some of the events from throughout the school year. These feelings and disappointments are valid, and you’re not alone in feeling like that but don’t get too ahead of yourself.
Do not simply decide that because your marks are lower, you are a failure or that because you didn’t do well on that test, you aren’t doing well; before you discredit all your hard work and immediately count yourself out, stop, take a breath and add some context to the situation.
Here is the context: you just completed a year of university (hard to begin with) in a pandemic (that’s literally unheard of) entirely online.
You survived an entire year of online school during a global health crisis, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Now add some more context to your situation; did you have a job or work throughout the year? Do you have a family member who is sick or immunocompromised? Are you a caregiver to a loved one? These situations are difficult on their own, to increase the difficulty with school and a pandemic only increases the difficulty of everything else. You owe yourself the acknowledgment of the inherent challenges you have endured; you are deserving of credit for doing the work. Allow yourself the credit you deserve.
In high achieving university students this year, I have observed a general sense of disappointment with their results, which led to a greater sense of dissatisfaction with themselves and their accomplishments. Many students are forgetting to credit themselves, acknowledge even the imperfect work, and achieve validation in things not affiliated with academic accomplishment. You are deserving of all the things you may not feel entitled to just due to the simple fact that you tried, that you did the work, that you are a deserving individual. I have had to put genuine effort into this when I felt discouraged by my marks in classes that I enjoyed and was interested in. I felt like a failure for achieving a subpar grade, and I was upset with myself because I was passionate about the content, so why couldn’t I do better? I was unable to credit myself for any accomplishment until I added some context to my situation and allowed myself to understand the level of difficulty the things I was doing were.
It requires a constant effort, especially as things that surround you constantly change, but you must always work to give yourself the credit you deserve. As students, we are our own toughest critics and our own worst comparators; start putting effort into silencing the inner voice that criticizes you, put work into focusing on yourself only and really understand that simply surviving is an accomplishment on its own. You as an individual are valued, and your work is appreciated, even if sometimes you struggle to see it that way.
As the semester comes to an end, now is the best time to give yourself the credit you may have deprived yourself of throughout the semester. Take the time while you have no assignments due or upcoming tests to find ways to give yourself credit and discover outlets that provide you with the validation or affirmation that you may only achieve through academic accomplishment. We each owe it to ourselves to find ways to credit ourselves for simply surviving, achieving and accomplishing hard things made more difficult by circumstance. You made it through the semester, and though it may not have worked out the way you originally intended, you still deserve credit, so give yourself some.