After a night of little-to-no sleep, staring weakly at my mile-long to do list for the day I had a sudden realization– probably brought on by an overdose of caffeinated beverages. I look around myself at college, at all the bright, inspired, motivated, talented, incredible individuals I’m surrounded by, and our dark under-eye circles and heavy backpacks. We brag about tragic sleep schedules, overbooked Google Calendars, and how many all-nighters we pulled this week. It’s almost trendy to be too busy to eat regular meals and sit in the libraries for hours and hours on end without moving. We are wearing exhaustion with pride, a symbol of sacrifice to prove how much we care and how hard we try. We run ourselves ragged and wear ourselves thin to validate our efforts and work ethic.

But there is no shame in self-care. Eating good food is important. Sleeping is important. Doing something that does not involve staring blankly into the blue-lit screen of our laptops is important. We romanticize fatigue, burning ourselves out day by day. Please stop normalizing unhealthy lifestyles and unhappiness. We ain’t shit without our physical and mental health. But balance in a place run rampant with extremes seems impossible a lot of the time. Exhaustion should not be framed as glamorous.

The demands are immense and the pressure is looming. But having limits is important.

Get rid of the guilt. We should not feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. It’s our job, evolution has been telling us to do this the whole time. Work hard. Chase dreams. But there is so much life happening right now.

Balance. Develop a morning routine that does not involve social media or energy drinks. Take breaks. Your mind and body will reward you. Self-care should not fall to the wayside during midterms or finals, it should increase. I know– hard to do in college but it’s hard to do any time. Bad habits die hard and so do good habits so begin now. Say no, take a nap, read a book you actually want to read, treat yourself to Netflix without feeling guilty. Do something with the pure rationale that you want to do it, with no ulterior motive or another person to please. Step back when you need to, shamelessly. 

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