Freshman year, I worked myself to the bone. My routine was as follows:
5:30am-6:00am: Wake up, change, get to the gym when it opens.
7:00am-8:30am: Shower and put on full face of makeup.
8:30am-9:00am: Surprise! Something went wrong. Now you’re late!
6:00pm-7:00pm: Free time! Choose: food or the daunting pile of homework?
11:30pm: Arrive home.
11:30pm-11:35pm: Change into ‘cute’ 🙃 PJs, fix makeup.
11:35pm-1:30am: Hang out with various people on my floor, to “make non-SOT friends.”
5:30am: UP UP UP AND AT ‘EM, DO IT AGAIN. Unless it’s Saturday. Then you don’t have to be anywhere until 9:30am instead of 9:00am–what a treat!
While at the time I thought I thrived on the utter chaos of 4 hours of sleep for 8 months straight, I see now that I was actually manic. I wasn’t doing good work in class, because I was either falling asleep every time we did a roll-down or riding an exhaustion high so intense that by the time I went to sleep I couldn’t remember what my first class had been that morning.
Inside the SOT, we often talk about self-care. But we often do so vaguely. Get sleep, drink water, don’t get sick. Thanks! Helpful! Didn’t think of that one, Cheryl, I’ll try to visualize that! Will add that to my vision board first thing, Cynthia!
We need to start practicing what we preach: real self-care. We need faculty, administration, and fellow students to be more tuned in to the physical, mental, and emotional struggles of our community.
For me, I needed someone to notice that I was falling asleep during class and ask about it. I needed someone to notice that I wasn’t retaining any memory of what was happening class to class, despite being seemingly attentive during class time. Hell, during second semester of my freshman year, I once vomited during class and insisted on staying, and was only made to leave after the third time puking. And even then, I had a different class a half hour later, so I laid down on a bench just outside of the room instead of going to sleep or get checked out at (admittedly shitty) Student Health. I needed the trained professionals around me to take notice.
What I got instead was world-class training.
Was the trade off worth it?
I think so. But I came out the other side, and not everyone does. When I reflect on how lucky I am to have made it here today, I don’t thank individual teachers or classes for that. I am thankful that I found my way to friends within the SOT relatively early on, so that I would feel less pressure to hang out with people from my floor — who, spoiler, were boring as shit — every night. I am thankful that although I (like many of my fellow creatives) have an addictive personality, I have so far been able to nip any potential substance dependencies in the bud before they got serious. I thank the fact that my mom works for the public school system, so my health insurance was able to cover therapy–since Boston University’s SHS does not offer mental-health support (in fact I was given a list of professionals and then shown the door.)