Disclaimer: This is going to be a long article (and a slightly personal one at that).

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I am going to start with providing you a little bit of context:

I come from America – no, I am not speaking about USA – most precisely Central America, from a ridiculously tiny country that most people I have met struggle to find, with a population of around 4.2M.

Where I come from there is a stigma, or a stereotype of us nationals, that in summary says that we tend to lack motivation or a desire to thrive and become better, which is not helped by the government due to corruption, although that is a talk for another day.

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lmao no, we are just sassy and wild.

Anyways, I was born as the only daughter in a small family of three, and from my father’s behalf, I am the youngest child of three. So there were really no expectations for me as he had sort of giving up on that due to my siblings and my mother was just rolling the dice, but I proposed myself since I was a child that I would, in fact, fulfil those expectations and beyond.

I was also privileged enough to be sent and enrolled in a private school where it was guaranteed that by the time your child graduated they would at least be bilingual, it was guaranteed because they started teaching English to the children since they first enrolled – around 3,5 to 4 y/o, and from second grade further they added French too. My parents, wishing for me to get a better chance at life than they did, “broke their backs” (Spanish saying) for me to become better, and I ended up graduating with honours, college acceptances from abroad, a scholarship, achievements under my sleeve and speaking fluently three languages (or almost completely in French’s case) back in 2018.

Here’s the catch though: I was supposed to be proud of happy, I had done it all right?

No.

Wrong answer.

I was miserable and did not felt happy at all.

I had driven myself mad with expectations that everything I should have been happy for, represented nothing more than something I had kicked my arse over, and I found myself often enough feeling empty and wondering if it was even worth it.

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Why did that happen?

Well, let us briefly discuss my senior year so you can picture it better:

Imagine a self-conscious 16 y/o (later-17) who had spent the two years prior to that as a member of the top 3 of her class and top 5 on her Bachelor*, the first last day her home teacher provides them all a speech which can be summarised as “The internships are awesome, strive to go there,” but those who were sent there were only the best.

Besides the academical struggle, the same girl also had to deal with college applications and extracurricular activities, one of which also involved a graduation that required you to comply with certain requirements including a, very stressful, speech in front of an audience with time limit and jury.

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The same girl also happened to strive to be within the Top 10 of her prom and not only she expected that; her parents, her teachers, her friends, and heck! Even her classmates!

As you could imagine, the pressure slowly started to become unbearable and the pile of work she had to get done seemed to become infinite by day, and suddenly every opinion of her mattered to her more than ever.

Conclusion?
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It wasn’t until after she had graduated, after she had quit her job and was about to move out of the country that she realised how harmful and deteriorating were her past habits.

Instead of drowning myself with harmful comments towards myself, I decided to reflect instead.

Here is what I learnt:

1. No one is the patron of your life, besides yourself.

2. You are human and humans are way far from being perfect.

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3. Your well-being and your mental health matters.

4. You are your own person; you cannot walk everywhere expecting people to look out for you if you yourself don’t even care about yourself.

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5. You are not alone, there is always someone who is willing to listen to you even if you cannot see it at first.

6. Setting goals for yourself is fine as long as they don’t become obsessive.

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7. Driving things to an extreme is dangerous and harmful, just don’t.

8. It is okay to have bad days and there is nothing to be ashamed of it.

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9. Speak up! You have a voice for a reason.

10. You might believe that things are beyond repair, instead of giving up, just take a breath, stare at the problem from another perspective and you will realise that things are easier than they appear to be! There is always a solution so be patient.

If you ever are in distress or feel more than overwhelmed, hopefully these things that I do to ground myself up, can help you:

  • Write a journal.
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Even on those days when I feel empty, drained out of emotions and energy, I just grab my journal and let my mind flow as I write, trust me, you will feel better when you are done.

  • Describe your surroundings.
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Whenever I feel like I am either about to or in the midst of a panic attack, I start describing my surroundings with as much detail as possible, and I find that as it forces my mind to focus in one thing at a time, it really does help.

  • Cry.
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Sometimes my anxiety is so unbearable that the only thing that would help me out is to cry, and it is totally fine to! There’s no need to be ashamed of this, it is natural and you will see that afterwards you feel relieved.

  • Stop whatever you are doing and go take a hike.
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This is probably one of my favourites; when possible I would postpone my duties and go take a walk to my nearest park where I would stroll around until I am calm, and after I have relaxed I would buy a hot drink of my preference on the café inside the park and then slowly make my way back towards my apartment.

  • Talk about it.
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When I felt lonely I would often call my boyfriend and would speak endless hours with him, or if I did not want to worry him then I would usually go to one of my roommate’s and talk about whatever or our problems.

  • Treating myself.
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Sometimes I would either go to the nearest vegan store (I cannot eat dairy by any means) and would buy a bunch of treats and ingredients for a wholesome meal and would also take a long hot shower with my favourite essential oils to relax.

But most importantly just don’t allow anyone – not even yourself – to ruin you, believe it or not you ARE worth it.

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Further explanation of the issues with an asterisk (*):

High School Bachelors; in my country’s educational system, you are expected to choose a Bachelor after 9th grade and the subjects that you will take from 10th to 12th are tailored for that specific bachelor; so for instance, if you were a Business one – like me – you would have never touched Chemistry, Physics, Biology, etc. and would have taken Marketing, Accounting, Economics, etc. instead.