Illustration by Skylar Mix
I was ready for 2020 to be over pretty early into the year.
As cliche as it sounds, I was ready for a new year; after a turbulent, unexpected and what felt like a gut punch of a year, the idea of a clean slate was comforting to me. 2020 felt like both a fever dream and the longest year of my life at the same time. I endured new jobs, new and ending relationships and the challenges that went along with it all.
All in all, I was just happy I made it out the other side still standing.
Going into the new year, I feel more optimistic about what is to come. I think while a lot of our world is in turmoil in a number of ways, we need to focus on our ability to control what we can, rather than try to control the actions of others.
Now that I have a month of 2021 under my belt, here are some of the things that I learned so far:
It is OK to ask for help.
It has always been difficult for me to accept help from others. I am pretty independent and like to do things myself, so I only ask for help if I cannot get something done on my own. However, I realized how damaging this can be and how much more difficult it has made my life. Trying to do everything on my own was not working for me, and the people who care about me were more than willing to help me out when I needed it the most.
Oftentimes in the past with my mental health or school-work, I tried to do as much as I could on my own to not feel burdensome to others. This took a toll on me and made me feel worse and isolated from those around me.
I think as a young woman, society expects me to be able to do it all on my own, but this is not true, nor is it a healthy expectation. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but of strength to recognize when you need extra support. When I was having more issues with my mental health, I reached out to my friends and family to talk about how I was feeling, which made me feel less alone.
There is no shame in taking time for yourself.
Just like asking for help, self-care is something I usually overlook. Now in my last semester, I am busy with two jobs and a full course load on top of applying for jobs. All of this has made my stress levels increase, so I have begun to take chunks of time out of my day to do something for myself, whether it be doing one of my hobbies or just making a meal for myself.
It does not need to be anything crazy, but taking small steps in taking better care of myself has helped me feel a lot better about my stress for the future. While I cannot control everything around me, I can control the good things I do for myself. Having this mindset has freed me from unrealistic expectations I have for myself and my life.
Accept the things you want to let go.
Holding onto grief and painful memories only leads to more pain and stress. Letting go of the things that hurt me has made me stronger and a better person. Processing my emotions and working through them by journaling or just talking about them with my friends and family has helped me to let go of the things that made me feel anxious and bad. Now, I am able to learn from my experiences and let go of my past so I can focus on my present.
Progress is not linear, it takes a lot of hard work, persistence and resilience. The more I have worked to challenge my negative thinking and let go of things out of my control have allowed me to enjoy my life more and focus on the things that really matter to me and make me happy. As a new year begins, I can only help but think of the exciting things to come.
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Hi, I’m Sara Crawford, a senior journalism student from Cleveland. I’m also the editor in chief of The Burr and the opinions editor for KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.
Molly Heideman is a senior journalism major from Avon, Ohio. This is her first semester writing for The Burr and currently serves as the general assignment editor for The Kent Stater and an editorial intern for Akron Life Magazine. Molly has always had a passion for writing and would write short stories and poems growing up. When she’s not writing or reporting, you can find her making a new Spotify playlist, crocheting or taking walks around campus. You can contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @mollyhjmc.