I have been making a conscious effort over the last couple of weeks to vocalise my stress levels. My default is to bottle it up and just deal with it on my own but I know that in the past that hasn’t done me any favors.
For me, being vulnerable about my struggles is something that doesn’t come easily. Having a blog that I can post on has really helped me get my thoughts out and it comforts me to know that so many people feel the same way from time to time. As much as I feel like I am burdening others when I talk about what is worrying me, I know that the people listening don’t feel that way.
For me the last couple of weeks have welcomed new challenges and experiences. I have had to think and learn differently than I ever have before. You would think that after so many years of university that my balance between study, work and just life would be down pat but that is definitely not the case.
“Our mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.” – R U OK?
Practical exams are something I have been putting off thinking about for a while. I knew that going into a nutrition degree that they would be an inevitable part of assessment but didn’t want to prematurely stress myself out. Today was my first one and I have to say that I am glad it is over. I am really proud of what I was able to learn and the information I was able to provide to my examiner. Though I have to say that the road to getting to that point wasn’t smooth. As much as I get excited about academic achievement, I have to say that the thing I am most excited and grateful for is the friendships I have gained in the lead up. Girls who I had never actually spoken to have now become close friends. We have been there for each other when we wanted to drop out before census (so glad we are sticking it out), through the early morning practices and after each person’s exam to debrief. We still have two more this semester and I can’t think of a better group to be doing it with.
The friendships I have gained at university through my nutritional and legal studies go so much further than circumstantial friendships. By actually asking about each person’s story, beliefs, feelings and lifestyle we have got to really know each other in quite a deep and meaningful way. We can be vulnerable together, break down together, laugh together and eat together (we are studying nutrition of course food is involved).
To me forming meaningful friendships hasn’t always been easy. I think that when you are at school it is so much harder to truly find people you connect with because once you are in a group that is often where you stay. I moved groups a couple of times in school but often found that as we got older and went on our own journeys of self-discovery we naturally drifted apart. I am at a point now where I feel confident in who I am. I am not as ashamed of my strange qualities and quirks as much as I was. I don’t feel worried that people will judge me and I don’t feel afraid to open up if I need help. I acknowledge that this isn’t the case for everyone. There are so many people that go through life silent and blending into the background not wanting to discuss what is going on. Sometimes people can appear fine but they are not. Indeed, it is often those that seem most lit up and put together that are suffering the most.
I think that ‘R U Okay Day’ is really important. I think it gives people the push they might need to reach out and ask their loved ones how they are really feeling. It is a nice reminder that even though we might think our lives are challenging that others are also finding their circumstances challenging too. I don’t think asking others if they are okay should be limited to one day. I think it is something we need to be conscious of all the time. I also think we need to take a step away from our own lives sometimes and ask “am I okay?” It can be so easy to throw ourselves into work, study, family and friends and forget about ourselves.
Last week I just felt like I was running a mini marathon with my thoughts. I was struggling to get up in the morning. I wasn’t energetic and just felt like I was in a bit of a lull. I convinced myself I was fine and that I just needed to man up and hustle but what I knew deep down was that I really needed to relax and do something for me.
I made a snap decision to chop my hair off. It was honestly the best decision. I took the morning off study, I spent time with Bruno, went for a walk with my friend (and got soaked from head to toe #Melbourne), got my hair done and made some soup for dinner. I know that all those things are really simple but it honestly made a world of a difference heading into this crazy period of assignments and exams.
Talking openly that has honestly made so much of a difference in my life. When I tell people that I am stressed and worried sometimes they don’t perceive me as weak or incapable. Rather, they see that as me acknowledging how I feel and turning to others for strategies to deal with it. As people we crave companionship. We want people to listen and to understand. Ultimately, sometimes all we want is to belong and feel loved by others.
I have found through my own experience that being open strengthens relationships. I feel so much closer to my loves ones now than I did when I was a completely closed book. I really want to use this platform as a place where I can show that it is okay to be open. It is okay to share how we feel. People don’t expect perfection from you. You are human and you are doing your best. It is okay to ask for help if you’re struggling and it is okay to reach out a hand if you are concerned or are genuinely interested in how someone feels. All it takes is a simple question ‘R U Okay?’ to show someone that you care and that you are there.
Thank you so much to these legends and my mum for being my willing patients this week....I will get you next time dad! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking time out of your day to help me!