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Embracing Setbacks and Self-Care

Kristin Roots

Elizabeth DiNunzio Memorial Trail

As I've grown older, I've become more attuned to my internal self-talk. Negative self-talk, much like the common cold, tends to pay frequent visits. Reflecting on the past two weeks of classes, I can't help but think about the rollercoaster it has been. I caught a cold twice, and my self-criticism was relentless.

Returning to campus, I always anticipate catching a bug. Fall is underway and the crisp breeze has arrived. The beauty is immense, but it fades when you wake up at 3 a.m. with a sore throat, knowing you have papers to write, classes to attend, and meetings to do.

Unfortunately, I spent much of the early part of the semester sick, struggling with assignments, and even eating. I found myself growing enraged at becoming sick due to my many responsibilities. I kept thinking, "How can I work efficiently if I can barely think straight?"

My negative self-talk persisted for a few days: "Loser. Try harder. How could you get sick now? Push through. If you can't, you suck."

Despite everyone, including teachers and friends, telling me it was normal to be sick, I couldn't let myself off the hook. I felt extreme pressure to be well, meet my obligations, and avoid falling behind. In this relentless pursuit of perfection, I was missing a crucial point.

During this period of self-criticism, I came to realize that it was okay to have setbacks. They are a part of life, and being compassionate towards oneself is essential during adversity. Setbacks, particularly simple ones like catching a cold, don't make me any less capable or valuable as a student or an individual. Once I understood this, I began to treat myself with the understanding and kindness I would offer a friend.

Now that my sickness has subsided, I feel more grounded in clarity, and I have resumed my regular responsibilities. My workload has been intense, but in a way that keeps me busy. At times, I get overwhelmed by all the work, and my negative self-talk begins to seep in again. To combat this, I go for long walks on campus. There are so many trails, and now that the weather is nicer, the scenery is tranquil. I also love watching the various cats prowling the sidewalks at nighttime. Overall, walking helps me organize my thoughts, and by the time I return to my studies, I feel more energized and ready to focus.

Working for the newspaper has also added to my busyness. I serve as one of the editors, fully committed to contributing as a valuable member of the team, supporting fellow editors and staff writers. Our inaugural newspaper edition for the semester has already been published, and it's truly a remarkable achievement. This marks my first experience with the inner workings of the Mountain Echo, and while it can be demanding at times, it's an opportunity that encourages me to enhance my time management skills. This experience underscores the significance of self-care. Just as in my academic journey, being a part of the newspaper team necessitates embracing setbacks and challenges. It serves as a reminder that we are all human, capable of growth and compassion.

Kristin Roots