Dear Harvard Students,
There’s something I wanted to let you know.
You’re doing a great job.
I mean it.
You’re doing an amazing job for getting through a semester of college. You’re doing an amazing job sticking it through. You’re doing an amazing job growing up. You’re doing an amazing job learning about life. You’re doing an amazing job being you.
I feel like we take it for granted that we’re only just coming into our twenties. We’re not really supposed to know what we want to do or who we want to be. And if we do, great! And if we don’t, there’s no such thing as “too late”. Life can bend and flex more than you think it can.
One night before finals, I broke down because I kept asking myself the question why couldn’t I be motivated to study, where did my panic go, what am I doing, where am I going, what happened to my confidence, why am I not excited for this cool class, what do I like, would I prefer hanging out with friends or being by myself…do I even know what I want? I’m not religious, but I still got on my knees in my room, crying, feeling defeated, asking for myself/someone to show me what I truly care about.
I would love to say “I got an answer”. But at the time, I didn’t. I just kept crying, releasing all the anxieties and tension that had built up for a couple weeks. Afterwards, all I knew was that I wasn’t weak, I was human. And we don’t give ourselves enough credit for having to deal with the internal pressure (we may not admit this) of having to be perfect academically, athletically, extracurricularly, socially, and/or physically.
For those who have looked at themselves in the mirror and asked: “What’s wrong with me?” I wanted to let you know: there is nothing wrong with you.
You are human. You aren’t right and you aren’t wrong. Whoever told you college would be perfect, or that you would have to be perfect to be accepted…say hi to that voice and say “There is nothing I should be. I’m trying the best I can.” And you are. That’s why I wanted to let you know you’re doing a great job.
We don’t have to be strong 100% of the time. In fact, feel free to be weak more than half the time. But make sure you’re open to someone about this, even if that someone is yourself. You don’t have to change the way you feel, but acknowledge that you are feeling this way. Because admitting in a nonjudgemental matter that you’re feeling unsure actually means that you aren’t weak. There is nothing wrong with you for not being to handle everything.
I had severe insomnia for a good chunk of 2011, and someone asked me how I finally let myself sleep. I don’t really care much about grades nor do I take on huge responsibilities in my extracurriculars, yet I still felt this unbearable pressure to do, do, do, achieve, achieve, achieve. Finally, I realized by telling myself: There is absolutely nothing you need to achieve by the time you graduate from Harvard, that I could finally just be in bed and drift off to sleep (side note – helps if you kind of let your busy mind wander towards your feet too.)
It’s easy to say “nobody’s perfect”. But it’s hard to really believe it, in your gut. We were born and bred in some fashion to believe that we need to be perfect, to keep improving, to keep striving.
So I just wanted to let you know: You can protest perfect whenever you want.
Merry Christmas Harvard
Love from a fellow student
This entry was written by a member of the Class of 2013 at Harvard College.
Want to Protest Perfect as well? Check out this movement to Protest the Perfectionism
See other blog posts written by other Harvard community members here.