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Mental Health

Finding Joy Within the New Year

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Trigger Warning: This article contains subject matter about mental illness. 

I lost myself in 2021. It took me so long to acknowledge that I was becoming a person I was so unfamiliar with. I put all of my effort into other people and to pleasing those around me that I never was able to account for my own well-being. I put all of my efforts into distracting myself by overloading my schedule. I put all of my efforts into helping my friends or wanting to give them the advice they deserved. I didn’t know who I was anymore. 

The people I surrounded myself with began to take note of this. My friends, family and even people I was hardly close with questioned my health, and in response, I usually broke into tears.

The process of healing is never linear. My anxiety was at its peak in the fall semester: it became a daily struggle to follow a routine of getting ready, caring for my hygiene and even attending my classes. I had lost all hope in who I was as a human. It became such a problem that I took a hiatus from my classes (and Her Campus) and admitted myself into a partial hospitalization program to improve my well-being, and only those close to me somewhat knew what was going on.  

Within my last week there, my boyfriend of two years and I split. My emotions amplified again and got the best of me, but as the weeks went on I was able to move past the breakup within record time. At the end of 2021 (and even before then) I finally came to terms with the fact that I did not like men. At all. I didn’t have a “male exception” anymore. Maybe that’ll change one day, but so what? Sexuality is fluid, and that’s okay.

I entered the new year with my best friends. I wasn’t sure if I was improving or not mentally until Tate, a friend within my group, came up to me.

“I missed you so much,” Tate said to me. I was so confused. I was seeing my friends practically every single day. “It’s like you’re yourself again.” After he said that to me, my friends saw us crying and then joined us in a group hug. I will truly never, ever forget that moment. 

Within this new year, I have rekindled connections with so many people that I love and cherish. I have been able to meet new people, share interests with my younger brother and make more time to spend with my family. Throughout last year I was unaware of how much I was beginning to distance myself until it was brought to my attention. 

I’ve reminded myself daily that it is alright to say no. I always have so much on my agenda and learning to make that room for myself or the things I would like to do is completely normal. Although my schedule stays busy: tackling being a double major with two part-time jobs and usually working on a show, I usually don’t have much time for myself.

This year I have made the promise to myself that if something becomes too much for me that it is okay to take a step back and return when I am ready. There is no problem in setting boundaries for myself.

I have picked up my bass guitar again and am slowly making time every day to play. I take five minutes each day to stretch my fingers across the different frets as well as learn sections of a song that brings me joy. I am so glad that I finally found the motivation to begin to play again.

Journaling has become a constant for me daily. I have been tracking my mood along with my general thoughts throughout the day. I cannot stress the importance of doing so: writing my thoughts out on paper, things I wish I could say to someone or even just within organization- it is so, so crucial. 

I finally am taking advantage of the gym on campus and try to work at least one or two times per week. My rule of thumb is I have to enjoy what I am doing and also eat enough beforehand. I nourish myself with the foods I enjoy but also the ones that make my heart feel healthiest.

I am beyond proud of the progress that I have made as an individual on my self-growth thus far. While the new year came just in time, I truly have never felt more like myself again. Mental health is a pain, and if you struggle, I encourage you to do what you can to heal. You have to want the change and believe that it will happen for you. I have motivated myself to do what I enjoy, and I am so happy that I have received the help that I needed in 2021. 

I would encourage you all to be proud of yourselves, regardless of where you stand. Begin to take time to care for yourself. As someone who has rejected that idea for almost my entire life, it is the best thing I have ever done for myself.

Mia Richards is a Journalism Broadcast and Theatre Performance double major. While they have lots of experience on stage, they are also attributed with multiple directional credits. They love playing video games and learning more about playing their bass guitar! You typically can find them in their room manifesting or in the kitchen eating multitudes of breakfast food.
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