It’s the middle of the semester. Spring break is just around the corner, and this morning I received an email from Student Health Services telling me that I’ve used my maximum number of excused absences. I have officially entered the slump. Google defines slump in a few ways: sitting or falling heavily, abnormally low economic performance that results in widespread unemployment, or a period of substantial failure or decline.
My slump isn’t nearly as dramatic as these definitions, but it feels that way sometimes. I’m sure some of us feel like each semester is one long trainwreck. How do people just want to get out of bed in the morning? How do they want to run a mile at 6:30 a.m.? How do they stay awake doing homework until midnight, and then do everything over again?
Living is hard. Being present is hard. Pretending like you’re being successful every day is hard. Sometimes, the fake it till you make it mentality works. Sometimes it doesn’t, and both are equally ok. In a counseling session, I imparted to my therapist that I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m not the main player in my life. I just watch myself from the sidelines as I float through my daily activities. It’s normal to disconnect from your life when you find yourself losing control. As a college student, things can get overwhelming very quickly. It’s important to take a step back and reorient yourself with what matters to you. Going through the motions is a classic stress trope because we fall so frequently into patterns that are difficult to maintain. It’s easy to speed so quickly in one direction that you forget why you’re going that way. Then you lose sight of your purpose, and it’s easy for the slump to set in.
At home in Texas, I have a favorite yoga studio my mom and I often visit. The yoga instructor sets intentions for us near the end of the class — to meet the world with kindness, to be compassionate to ourselves, to take every step with a light touch.
In therapy, again, as I described my feelings of depersonalization and helplessness, I was reminded to set an intention for myself each day. I set an intention to accept myself and all of my mistakes. I set an intention to listen to the parts of me that were tired, instead of trying to push them aside so that I could achieve some sort of emblem of success. I set an intention to recognize that being tired and overwhelmed aren’t flaws; they’re human. I set an intention to believe in my ability to be good to myself. I set an intention to believe in my ability to feel well again.
The slump is a natural part of the human process, but it does not have to change how you see yourself. It doesn’t have to change your value. If you focus on accepting every part of your journey, it will help you appreciate where you are and where you’re going. Then, you might find that you have more of a will to get there. I would never finish a yoga class if I didn’t believe in the airy freedom I feel after it ends. I would never finish a hike if I didn’t believe that I’d reach the pinnacle. It’s important to recognize that living is hard. There will be bumps, scrapes and probably train wrecks before my life is over. The slump is temporary, and the more you lean into it, the faster you’ll grow.