So if you are a student, or someone from an equally overwhelmed & underpaid group, then you likely know a thing or two about stretching yourself to your limits. We hear it all the time; “get involved!” “it will look great on your resume/CV/transcript!” “you have so much freedom, take advantage!” etc, etc. You are expected to go to class, get involved on campus, start networking, and start expanding your social circle. Although you will also need a way to pay for this. So you have likely also gotten a job. You, like many others (myself included), may find yourself “over-committed”.
The connotations with this title aren’t great. There seems to be this idea that you should have a deep inherent knowledge about your capacity and where exactly it ends. Being “over-committed” means that you didn’t think things out in the long term, therefore you deserve the expected consequences. However, I personally like to take a sick pride in the title. As a slight narcissist with a bit of a martyr complex, I understand why this appeals to me. If I could do everything, I would. The problem arises when we take too long to realize we can’t do everything. Because for awhile it might seem like it’s working. Everything balances out – for the most part. I mean sure you’re late to every other meeting – but you made it there! You’re exhausted, emotionally dead and just on the edge of burning out – but look at how productive you’re being!! And here is the ultimate trap. Within our society, value is placed on your productivity and eventually your self-worth can get tied up in your level of productivity. This sucks!!! Seriously. Especially with high levels of mental illness on campus, this is extremely invalidating. It makes students (and others) feel worthless unless they are doing literally everything they can. I could go into the political agenda behind having an overwhelmed and exhausted student populous – but that isn’t the title of this post.
So there you are, completely overwhelmed, only just holding it together – and then it happens. I don’t know what it is; maybe your significant other has left you, or Donald Trump becomes president, or maybe your house has to be fumigated and your grandfather just died. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is, ‘it’ is just the worst thing that could happen to you right at that moment. And in that moment it feels like a movie. Everything goes so horrendously wrong that you think this must not be real – it can’t be. But it is, and now you have to deal with it. So how?!
- ASK FOR HELP: This is an obvious one and it sounds super cheesy, but if it could be the only item on this list, it would be. Seriously, if you have people around you that are willingly to support you LET THEM.
- DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE: It sucks. We all know it sucks but we do it anyway. So my advice is don’t do this. Reach out to people, even if you just get a coffee it can make a huge difference. If you are comfortable talking about it then JUMP RIGHT IN. You have to deal with it sometime and it helps if people understand where you are at. People cannot support you unless they know what’s wrong.
- SEND THE EMAILS: Going off of the last point, you will probably have to tell a few people you maybe would rather not. If you are over-committed there is a good chance people are relying on you. Try to avoid feeling guilty and be up front with people about your capacity. Can’t go to class right now? Ok, no problem. But probably email your prof first. Consider taking some time off from responsibilities where you can as it may help to reduce stress in the long run.
- FIND A DISTRACTION: Now I am obviously not a psychologist so take what I say as you will, but if shit has hit the fan you may want some kind of distraction. Personally I became obsessed with an iphone game (and may have gone as far as to be tempted into the in-app purchases…). Whatever you chose, just find something to help you take your mind off… everything.
- DON’T GIVE UP: This one also sounds super cheesy but I stand by it. When you are already extremely overwhelmed and something catapults you over the edge it can be pretty disheartening. But you have survived this far and you will survive this too.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: When all else fails you are all you have. Make sure to make care of your mind and your body in this stressful period. Eating well and sleeping the right amount may be hard but it make a huge difference. Take time for self-care and try to remain mindful.
So rest up kids because life is fucking shitty sometimes, and you need to be ready to rally.
*this is meant to be helpful, if you have any other suggestions please let me know!!