Kickstarting momentum and keeping the movement going is hard. Throw in being in the middle of a pandemic, at the tail-end of a weird winter, coupled with another lockdown, and it almost makes trying to find motivation laughable. Online school, and constant access to your bed can only serve to create an even greater distance between you and your academic goals.
However, the semester is coming to a close – you’re almost there! I hope you take pride in how far you’ve come, and I hope that you find value in your achievements outside of your grades. There is great strength in having made it this far, and to be still standing. Your best is wherever you are at right at this moment.
You are, first, and foremost, the expert on your life, and only you know what makes you tick. No matter how well meaning your friends, family, and peers may be, their advice should come second to what you know to be true. Your internal world is completely separate to how you come across, and you know what has worked, and not worked, in the past.
So, do what needs to be done.
The end of the term coming, with exams and essays looming, and prospects of possibly moving, graduating, or staying as you are, hanging light and heavy. During this time, give yourself the permission to be exactly what you need. Answer to no one but yourself. Give yourself the permission to change and shift and grow with the changing of your schedule, moods, and needs. I don’t believe that we are meant to be static people, and to try and remain as you have been can come at a great personal cost. Breathe into the process of changing. If you can’t bring yourself to move yourself in the direction you know you need to go, do yourself the favour of leaning into the winds of change. Let yourself be coaxed. Coaxed into being gentle with yourself, being loved and cared for, and being everything you need to be. No one survives alone, and we all, more than ever, need to ask for, and tell each other, what it is that we need and want.
Habit can be a friend in times of turmoil. When your entire world is crashing, and you can’t find certainty in much, your little habits can ground you. Consistency can be a gift, and it can be a trap. I have a love-hate relationship with forming and maintaining habits. I find myself struggling with creating healthy habits, while the bad ones are all too happy to stick around. While we can equate some of our habits, good and bad, to the world outside our windows, there must also be a recognition that we do have agency. We are creatures of habit – I wake up, scroll through my phone, force myself out of bed to wash my face and brush my teeth, and then go back upstairs to get dressed. I am probably not alone in my morning routine.
However, as much as we pay attention to our physical habits, how often do we zero in on our emotional, and mental habits that do as much, if not more, to keep us within our current lifestyles? Next time you mess up, or procrastinate, or just don’t hit the mark, pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Are you treating yourself with compassion and understanding, or is there a constant ticker tape running with you telling yourself that you’re a failure? We are all failures, and we are all winners. There is not a single person that has not encountered failure, and while it is incredibly humbling and embarrassing, it can wake you up. It’s a chance to change, and to improve, and to level up. Without the fear of failing, there is no joy to succeeding. A participation medal can never compare to first, second, or third place. Even to fourth or fifth. To fail is to try, and to try is to be brave. Being brave is, quite frankly, one of the best things you can do for yourself. Take the first step. Pause, reflect, and take a moment to congratulate yourself on that first step. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the small victories, and trying to celebrate your tries. A life of tries is a life well lived.
And always remember,
You have been built to do hard things.
Every time you did something that you thought you couldn’t do, you’ve been building yourself. Every time you took a deep breath and raised your hand, spoke up and out, you’ve been building yourself. Every single time your heart raced, and you were frozen in your spot, thoughts racing, you’ve been building yourself. Congratulations.
You may have lead, or have led, a privileged life. Maybe you haven’t. But every single one of us has faced adversity, had challenges and missteps, and every single one of us has messed up. And just as you’ve done before, you can do it again. You are capable and strong, and smart, and most of the time, the only limitations you have are the ones that you put on yourself. It’s up to you to figure out when you need to tell yourself to relax, and when you need to give yourself a slight kick in the pants. As much as you need to give yourself the rest, the patience, the kindness, and the forgiveness that you deserve, you also owe it to yourself to keep pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
Rest and patience, and hard work and determination, go hand in hand. Burnout is real, and it can be a real damper on your abilities. It’s so easy to kick yourself for not doing all the things that you told yourself you would do, but you’re young, and you’re bright, and it’s time that you acknowledged that you have a lot of time and a lot of life left to give and to receive. Take pride in your accomplishments, and take ownership for your failures. You made it all happen.
It’s okay to try, it’s okay to try and to fail, and it’s okay to try and to succeed.
You owe it to yourself to keep up the work.