For most people, summer is a time without coursework, tests and classes. Not for me. At least, not this year. I have two incomplete classes to finish in addition to my summer class. And you know what? That’s OK.
Before this past year, I had never taken an incomplete in a class. I was always the “perfect student,” getting my work done *mostly* on time, making good marks and staying up until the wee hours of the morning to study or finish a project. I was good at school. It was my “job,” and I did it well.
At least, until last semester. This past spring, I did something a bit… unusual. I put my college success behind my mental health.
If you really think about it, staying up until 3 a.m. to study for an exam, working 5 hours straight per day on coursework, not sleeping, not eating properly, stressing out all the time… it’s not healthy. It gets the job done, so to speak, but at the expense of our well-being, whether we realize it or not.
For years, I didn’t realize it. I didn’t even consider how unhealthy and detrimental these habits could be. But after getting my mental and physical health back on track during a gap year between my freshman and sophomore year (yes, I am supposed to be a junior, but I am a year behind, and that’s OK too…), I stopped thinking all of the crazy measures we go to for an “A” would fit neatly into my life.
There is an unspoken competition on college campuses: Who can get the least amount of sleep? Who is the busiest? Who was up the latest working? Who is taking the most credits?
It is unhealthy. It puts what really matters — mental health — aside.
The truth is, your grades in college don’t matter. No, really.
They don’t matter nearly as much as your mental well-being.
They don’t matter nearly as much as taking care of yourself appropriately.
Your grades in college mean nothing if you are not able to function because of stress, anxiety or exhaustion.
I may have had to take incompletes, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be nearly as stable in my mental health as I am now.
I still have depression spells. I still have anxiety and feel overwhelmed. But I don’t work through the night on studying or projects like I used to. I sleep. I eat food. I get fresh air. I drink water (because you cannot live off coffee, as much as I tried…and sometimes still try to).
I may have incompletes, but that doesn’t make me a failure.
I may have incompletes, and that is totally, completely, 100 percent OK. Because I am putting me first. For once.
This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals.