The Daily Illini

Don’t go into the semester trying to change yourself

By Brooke Eberle, Brand Manager

The first week after winter break, everyone returns with New Year’s resolutions of how to improve themselves coming into the next semester. People tell themselves they’ll go to the gym more, eat healthier, save money, learn a new skill, etc.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have this mentally coming into a new school year. Coming back after a long summer, a lot of people take this opportunity to start off the semester on a new foot the same way one would set up New Year’s resolutions. They make the same goals to lose weight or do better in classes, to focus on making new friends or joining more clubs. And for the most part, these goals are forgotten about pretty quickly.

I had this kind of plan going into the second semester of my junior year. At the beginning of the semester, I had gone through a pretty rough breakup and wanted to reinvent myself.

So I tried to control what I could.

And some of it worked. For the first month or so, I went to the gym pretty regularly, I cut out carbs, I went out with friends more, studied hard in my classes and threw myself into working as much as I could.

I was definitely improving myself on the outside, but on the inside, I was exhausted. I was trying to keep my mind busy 24/7 and in the process, I ignored my mental health.

Looking back on it, the big problem with this was I thought if I could improve myself enough, I’d be happier. This wasn’t the case. If anything, I felt more pressure to reach these goals I had set up for myself and felt stressed whenever I wasn’t keeping up with them.

That’s why this year, going into my senior year, I have one goal: to be happy.

Of course, I’m still going to try to do the best I can in my classes, apply for the best jobs and prepare myself for life after graduation, but in doing so I’m going to try to enjoy college as best as I can. I’m going to spend time with my friends and make memories because I know that after I graduate, I’m not going to look back on my time at the gym, but rather the laughs I had during my senior year.

Self-improvement can be good for you. If you see something you don’t like about yourself that you can change, go for it. But keep in mind self-improvement isn’t synonymous with self-care. And if trying to reach these goals conflict with your happiness, make sure to prioritize your own mental health over everything else.

So whether you are an incoming freshman, or a returning sophomore, junior or senior and you’re thinking about becoming someone else as you’re moving in this fall, I’ll save you a lot of time. Just be yourself. You’ll be a lot happier if you do.

And especially as freshmen, you may see college as this new opportunity to reinvent yourself. Yes, I encourage you to meet new people, join clubs and branch out and try new things but don’t lose yourself along the way. Staying true to yourself is the best way you’re going to find happiness.

Brooke is a senior in Media.

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