The summer after coming home from Australia was not like any other summer before. It felt as if I got off the plane at LAX and immediately I started running, not stopping until maybe right now, as I’m writing this blog post.
When I got off the plane and re-entered into the US, I had the horrible sinking feeling that my adventures were over, my life going back to the boring normal it had been before.
Instead, I started on a new adventure, this one a bit closer to home and even harder for me then traveling to the other side of the world by myself. I started on the journey to become the new Editor-In-Chief of my college newspaper, The Cauldron. For me, traveling was scary but I always knew that it would be an exciting kind of scary that had no consequences, only fun. The Cauldron on the other hand I knew would take a lot of hard work and dedication. I can understand that wanting to be the Editor-In-Chief of a college newspaper wouldn’t sound like much of a feat to almost anybody, but to me it was the start of my future as a journalist, which unfortunately meant that not only was I going to have to be a good leader but that also that I would need to trust myself, something I’ve always had issues with.
I got off my last flight into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and two weeks later was giving my pitch to a panel of 8 people intent on judging me and my ability to be a leader, with only a week and a half to prepare while also still extremely jet lagged from traveling half way around the world.
By the time that I left that meeting, feeling deflated and emotionally drained, my mind had already made up that there was no way that I would be voted into the Editor-In-Chief position.
I will freely admit that I am my own worst enemy. I see the flaws in my work when others don’t notice. So when it was announced that I had been voted into the EIC position I was so flabbergasted that I sobbed and didn’t know what to do with myself.
But then the real work started. I had from June to August to find an entirely new staff, deal with budgets, computer problems, websites and a few useless meetings to get to the first issue (which incidentally is on my desk right in front of me, the embodiment of all of my hard work up until this point.)
While all of this was happening, I was also having increased anxiety and panic attacks attributed to the stress I was under for The Cauldron, ex-staff nastiness, and my unabashed sadness that I was no longer in Australia and couldn’t take an hour train ride to see my family, or a 10 minute bus ride to the beach and sit in front of the soothing waves which always seemed to calm my nerves.
Half way through August my anxiety hit a breaking point when I had a panic attack at work, freaking not only my boss out but also my family.
I had to take a hard look at myself, decide if I was on the right path, or if my mental health could stand being on the path that I was on, as it felt as if my feet was stuck in quick sand, the path seeming to go on and on forever.
I knew I wanted to be a Journalist and no one ever told me that that would be easy. I decided that I wasn’t going to let my anxiety get in the way of my dreams, which was happily turning into my career.
But I also started to remember to take care of myself along the way. While I was still doing the work to get everything ready for the beginning of the semester, I was also taking time for myself to decompress. I was making self care as much of a priority as my work.
I did this in little ways.
Like making sure that I was going to bed at a reasonable hour so that sleeplessness wasn’t contributing to my irritability and stress, I tried to remember that I was only one person and that always stressing about everything was only going to bring me unhappiness and I tried to remember that I was doing all of this for a good reason. That reason being that I love to write, I love journalism and I love the way it can inform and move people and I so wanted to make people feel what I feel when I write.
I won’t say that I still don’t have days when all I want to do is sob and not leave my bed but the difference is that now I don’t judge myself as much for it because nobody is perfect all the time. I don’t expect other people to be so why should I expect that of myself.
I am at a point where this adventure, though small in comparison to the many I hope to have in the future, is exciting and worthwhile again.
And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.