I've always been a person who sets goals and reaches them, powered by self-motivation and to-do lists.
But who am I when this identity based in achievement and doing crumbles? My New Year's resolution is to find out.
I started last semester fresh off a busy spring, a hectic but exciting study abroad session and a seven-week stretch of working three jobs before diving right back into classes, a new job as editor-in-chief and a new home off campus. But when it started out, I wasn't worried.
Since middle school, I thrived in a life of nearly 18-hour days full of classes and homework and sports and clubs and work. Even as a college student, I craved busyness and somehow always kept my life fairly balanced with only the occasional mental breakdown.
However, this past fall semester brought me to my breaking point; I had officially burned out.
Without me even realizing it, I slowly began to lose motivation in class and then in my social life and then in doing things I really love, like working out with friends or going to improv shows on campus. I went from being a social butterfly and your stereotypical overachiever to spending most of my days alone in my room and barely getting assignments in on time.
The one thing I was still able to throw my remaining energy into was my work for BG Falcon Media. Not only were my roles for the newspaper, TV station and radio important to me; they weren't something I could afford to slack in. My audience — fellow Falcons and Bowling Green community members — count on me to lead a newsroom full of reporters and editors who are also counting on me. The guilt of potentially letting all of them down kept my head in the news before finally realizing where I was mentally.
Over the course of the past year, I began to isolate myself from nearly all my friends, view some of my most beloved hobbies as chores, throw self-care away completely and let down my colleagues, professors and mentors before I even knew what was happening. I had always identified as happy and self-motivated, and now I felt numb and too overwhelmed to do anything.
Leave it to a news article showing up on my Twitter feed after I had gotten to the point of barely being able to function to make me realize I was likely depressed. After a pretty hysterical emotional dump of a text to my mom, tear-filled meeting with my amazingly supportive Managing Editor Abby Shifley and an appointment with my primary doctor, I was on my way to getting help.
Now it's a new year, and I'm narrowing down a list of therapists to call about setting up an appointment. Considering where I've been mentally over the past semester especially, I'd call that a pretty big accomplishment, but I'm not ready to start defining myself based on achievements again just yet.
When I lost all motivation and ability to do, I lost who I was.
But, what I need to relearn is that I'm not solely my achievements.
And I'm not my depression.
My resolution for 2020 is to — with some help from a therapist and all those friends I need to bring back into my life — figure out and accept what truly makes me me.