A friend once told me that I was Superwoman. No matter how many things I had on my list, I would always find time to do everything and do it well. Even today, I take pride in this Superwoman persona, including the humble-brags about being overloaded with copious amounts of work and social obligations. However, this is what led to my inevitable downfall in my first year.
It’s not that I meant to become busy. For years, I had dreamed about propping open the door of my dorm to a world of new friends and new opportunities while eating ramen in a Rory Gilmore-esque style. People often say that university is the best time of your life. This was a chance to reinvent myself from the person who stayed in watching Gilmore Girls and gorging on an unhealthy amount of Walmart chicken nuggets. UBC was so big and shiny and new it seemed like the perfect place to implement that reinvention. But before I knew it, a huge part of me became desperately scared that missing out on an experience, any experience, doomed me to pathetic irrelevancy.
I still remember how out of the loop I felt those first few days. I hadn’t had any of the brochure experiences promised to me. I hadn’t sat on a patch of green with my multicultural group of friends discussing the nuances of Aristotelian metaphysics. It seemed like everyone was making these deeper connections and I was once again doomed to a lonely, chicken nugget-filled fate. So I said yes. To everything. Every frat party, every first-year event – even the ones that didn’t include pizza – and every friend that wanted to “hang out.”
Before I knew it, I was living the coveted college experience. I went to exciting parties and eventually, I found an amazing group of friends that accepted me. Most importantly, we did sometimes sit on patches of green.
This short-lived happiness came at a price. Every time I wasn’t surrounded by people, I found myself feeling desperately lonely. I was trapped in the midst of my own FOMO, with only my thoughts and fears to keep me company. It scared me, so I threw myself into even more activities, hastily scribbling my name onto the bottom of every sign up sheet and spending every waking moment with my friends. I threw parties and movie nights, signed up for articles I had no interest in writing, advertised events I had no interest in attending and swiped through Tinder until I had run out of all potential matches. Anytime I was alone, I was asleep.
When November came, the deadlines started piling up. I got lost in a world of midterms, quizzes and group projects, all set to the beautiful backdrop of never-ending rain. I woke up every morning feeling truly exhausted at the mountain of tasks I was expected to achieve in a day, but I had brought this suffering upon myself. And regardless of how much work I had to do, I could not stop saying yes.
When things got truly out of control, I became a person I did not recognize. I let stress take over and started snapping at everyone and everything, bursting out in short-tempered tirades at whatever got in my way. Drinking sporadically and sparsely eating, the happiness I once felt became nothing but a memory. The friends who were closest to me bore the brunt of my helpless rages, waiting for my complete and utter destruction.
It took me way too long to realize that over-burdening myself had real life implications. Not only was my poor quality of work ultimately letting me down but I was letting people down who had put their trust in me. I hadn’t realized how self-serving my Superwoman persona was, and it made me feel really really stupid. This is what ultimately made me hit my absolute breaking point and it was a nasty mess – the kind that includes the ugliest of crying and way too many tissues.
Even now, I find it hard to admit to myself that I am not Superwoman and that sometimes my best will simply not be good enough. It’s still hard to remember that I cannot be everywhere and do everything all at the same time.That’s okay though, because Superwoman is ultimately fictional, and this collective experience that we all share is very real.