When was the last time you woke up excited for the day ahead of you? How long has it been since you haven’t been worried about a deadline? Is there that ‘one thing’ you can’t seem to shake, something that weighs on you daily? For me, the thieves of my peace have come in the form of workaholism and overthinking friendships. And I know I’m not alone.
It is an unfortunate reality that many of us struggle internally on a regular, if not a daily, basis. Many of us students are at a point in our lives where change and stress is essentially unavoidable. We are at a point where we aren’t necessarily equipped to handle the changes or stressors.
Friendships that we thought would last a lifetime break down unexpectedly. The career and life goals we were once so sure of suddenly become much less attractive. Some beliefs we once held about life are proven untrue by the new experiences we find ourselves in. And when our perspective of reality shifts due to these new experiences, everything else gets shown in a different light and casts different shadows.
The past year has been one with several changes in lighting that resulted in exasperated feelings of anxiety, prolonged depressive episodes and months of questioning long-held beliefs about my relationships and life in general. I have stayed up at night begging and praying for peace, for wisdom and for discernment. I have woken up many mornings already dreading the day ahead of me. I have spent hours of my day weighed down by the heaviness of change and the soreness of growth.
However, something has changed during the past few months. I went to bed a few nights ago, excited to wake up the next morning. My days have been filled to the brim with meetings, production rehearsals and class projects. For the first time in over a year, I no longer leave interactions with my peers overthinking and hyper-aware of myself. I don’t feel out of place in my classes. After a year of immense change, I have finally adjusted to the change in lighting.
However, this adjustment did not come on its own. This feeling of peace I am finally experiencing again has come from forcing myself to release unhealthy attachments and surrender myself. This looks different for everyone, as everyone’s experience is completely unique to themselves. However, the one common factor is this: You must want your life to change for the better and be willing to humble yourself enough to allow that change to occur.
While there is no cookie-cutter way to finally achieve peace, here are some things that were essential to the freedom from my anxieties this semester:
- Just because a relationship/friendship existed in the past does not ensure that it will exist in the present.
This applies to relationships of all kinds: platonic, romantic or familial. As you and the people in your life grow and change, you can’t expect that relationships will remain the same. It is not unordinary to outgrow another person, or for them to outgrow you. That isn’t to say you love them any less, but you might have to reevaluate the weight of their role in your life. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn, but it ultimately freed me the most.
- Putting my physical, mental, and spiritual health ahead of worldly success is the only way to feel energized on a day-to-day basis.
For someone who has attached their worth to their productivity for a long time, this one is still difficult to remember and apply. However, getting eight hours of sleep every night and finding a work-out routine that excites me has honestly made me more efficient and productive when it comes to my classes. Additionally, I went to the health center and got the necessary care I needed for the symptoms I was experiencing. This balance is necessary, even if it feels like a sacrifice of time.
- If it is available to you, go to counseling or therapy.
Therapy has been absolutely essential to my pursuit of peace. It is very important to find a therapist who works for you, and it very well can take a few tries. However, finding a counselor that challenges me and encourages my growth has played a huge role in adjusting to change healthily. This semester, my therapist helped me reach a breakthrough realization about myself that opened my eyes to something that affects literally every relationship in my life. I don’t have time to talk about it here, but if you’re curious, you can DM me @leeezie on Instagram.
While not every day is filled with feelings of peace or confidence that I’m on the right track, I can say that life lately has been much brighter than it has been in the past. Just because you may have struggled for a long time, it does not mean that your life will always be painful or difficult. Peace is achievable if you open yourself up to the change necessary for it.