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How Passing Out Changed My View of Perfectionism

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Bright spots turned to white, and 13 hours later, everything became clear

I truly never imagined I would tell this humiliating story, especially not in an online publication. But, the realization I have come to is the reason the humiliating events that occurred at the Nicholas Rec Center need to be shared. 

I had just finished my normal Monday afternoon workout class when all of a sudden I felt lightheaded, my hands started to shake and my eyes started to fill with a few white dots. From there the few white dots multiplied into many, and soon after, my vision turned completely white. I could no longer see the treadmills, rowing machines or yoga mats scattered throughout the gym. Luckily, I had a friend with me who I was able to quickly tell that I was going to pass out, and she was able to run and get help. You might’ve thought that passing out at the school gym was the embarrassing part, but let me tell you, it gets worse.

Before I knew it I heard the faint sounds of sirens, and they continued to get louder by the second. Another one of my friends happened to be working her shift at the Nick that day, bolted over to me and whispered, “you’re not going to like this, but it’s protocol to call the ambulance when someone faints.” So, yes, that’s correct, the sirens were an ambulance coming to get me. 

Leaving the gym in an ambulance to go to the emergency room was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, but it taught me a huge lesson others have been trying to teach me for years. After returning home to my apartment from the emergency room, all I could think about was all the homework I needed to do, projects I needed to catch up on and readings I needed to complete. As I sat on the couch and unzipped my backpack to pull out my laptop, my boyfriend looked at me with confusion and asked, “Are you seriously about to start doing homework right now? You just got home from the emergency room.”

My eyes widened and I thought through what he said; It was definitely not the time for homework. His comment stopped me from doing any work that night. I recharged with some food and water, stayed off all screens and went to bed early with the expectation that the next day, all of this would just be an embarrassing memory. I woke up the following day with plans to attend all classes, but as I rolled out of bed, I still felt shaky and nervous. I feared that I would pass out again and possibly have nobody with me. I texted my roommates to see when they would be home and asked my boyfriend to come over in between so that I wasn’t alone. There’s nobody who values alone time more than me, so this was concerning in itself. My head was still hurting and I was on edge, but I was determined to make it to class. Yet once again, my boyfriend explained that I might be underplaying the fact that I had gotten out of the emergency room only a mere 13 hours prior. 

He was right (and I HATE being wrong). My perfectionist qualities were stopping me from taking care of my body and mind just to prove that obstacles couldn’t stop me from being a reliable student and person. I was putting pressure on myself to act as though everything was fine when in reality, passing out was really scary! The whole reason I passed out in the first place was because of my desire to be perfect. I told myself I needed to do a million different things before I went to the gym that afternoon, and I had decided, eating a good breakfast did not fit on the agenda or in the timeframe.

Once again, I listened to the wise words I was told and decided to take the rest of the day off of classes and work. I took time to take a walk outside, fuel my body and most importantly, rest. 

Passing out was terrifying. Watching my vision slip away and having no control was something I never want to experience again. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I’ve learned I need to let go of the mindset of being “perfect,” and prioritize myself and what’s best for me. My parents have been trying to teach me this lesson forever. I’m sure they never imagined my passing out at the gym would be the way to get the message across, but I am happy, and I bet they are too, that I finally understand.

Beth Shoop

Wisconsin '25

Hi, my name is Beth! I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I am currently a Junior at UW Madison studying Journalism, specifically Reporting and Strategic Communication! I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences, interests, and newfound knowledge!