The Importance of Putting Yourself First

Story by Jordan Mcgee
Photo by Amy Cain

When one is stressed, “me time” is usually suggested, if not mandatory.

However, as a college student, it is almost impossible to even fathom balancing class, work, social life, extracurriculars, even other peers and their burdens, and taking care of oneself at once, all while trying to put on a smile.

For some unidentified reason, self-care seems to dwindle shortly after coming to college. Speaking with a freshman voice, I know that learning self-care while attempting to balance other responsibilities quickly became a challenge. Suddenly, one convinces themselves that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish even the simplest tasks.

The desire to be super-student begins to overpower one’s life.

If one task is delayed, the feeling of failure kicks in quickly.

Eating and sleeping are replaced with all-nighters and the occasional snacking of the stale Goldfish that have been in the corner of your dorm for a month.

Time management was not much of an importance to me until coming to Central Michigan University. I allowed myself to stay on top of my 15 credits last semester, I kept a GPA over 3.0, I made friends and I got involved. I stayed up writing papers and studying for exams almost every night.

Everything felt balanced, but I lacked self care.

I continuously delayed showers, necessary meals and working out in favor of grades and extracurriculars. I pushed myself in an attempt to feel like super-student, but I felt disgusted with myself.

Even going to counseling felt like a chore, and I would feel more anxious about going than getting help.

My friends began to notice how neurotic and impatient I was becoming. I could barely get through a day without crying due to exhaustion of the over-balanced life.

I didn’t know exactly why I was doing this to myself, but the first semester was over, and I was allowed to go back home for three weeks. It was a much needed time to reevaluate how I was treating myself and what that does for the individuals around me.

If I did not begin to take proper care of myself while trying to accomplish everything I wanted to, I could severely damage my health.

My perfectionist nature originally allowed me to put school before health. Being able to recognize the damage that I’ve done was the first step to putting myself first.

The Change
Now, if I feel I need a break, whether that is from people or not, I have allowed my introverted self to take those naps if I can instead of attempting to fit a social life into my hectic days. I make sure I slow myself down so I am calm enough to deal with stress.

I look at myself in the mirror everyday and am thankful that I am alive. I compliment myself and all the love I have for the world.

I carry around my journal with me to document my feelings, positive and negative, to get them out of my body. It truly is a cleansing feeling.

Ultimately, recognizing that perfection is not always needed and slowing down is my number one tip for putting oneself first. If putting yourself first is not a top priority, then conquering the world cannot happen. Remember that.