I have one pair of hot pink jeans. I don’t joke around with my use of the phrase “hot pink”: they are a flaming fuchsia if ever a color existed. What’s more, they accentuate my legs, which is one of the body parts I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m especially proud of compared to the beauty standards of Western society. They are a pair of jeans against which no other jeans will ever compare in my life and I accept that peak in my life.
I have a rule with these jeans, though: I only wear them when I’m feeling it. Let me be clear: they’re not lucky. I don’t wear them when I have important events or when I want extra confidence. I only wear them when I’m already confident, like I could take on the world with my pinkie finger. They don’t infuse me with the power of a 21-year-old single woman, but rather heighten it.
Since I came back from my study abroad trip to Bolivia, I have worn them once, in January.
It’s been a rough few months.
Ultimately, the confidence that once imbued me with the power to wear my hot pink jeans has become my demise, as with all overconfident self-imposed heroes. I believed I could do it all, to the benefit of all. Manage social media of the student newspaper, fulfill the roles of a board member and athlete on the student figure skating club, complete my job as a research assistant, begin writing my undergraduate thesis, also while being a full-time student and maintaining a healthy social life? *scoff* I still wear my hot pink jeans; I can conquer anything. Everybody will love me!
It turns out I can’t and, unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to learn this lesson. Long story short with the last time: in 8th grade, I attempted to start our honors curriculum while being a varsity cross-country skier (I had a six-pack as a middle-schooler), continued as a high-level figure skater (more doubles please!), and begin my speech/debate career (sense a pattern?). I suffered from stress-induced acid reflux disease for a year before diagnosis, which also meant I was severely underweight and was miserably nauseated for the duration of that period. One of the most horrifying pictures of myself, to this day, was one taken at a flute recital (oh, did I mention that one too?), following a track meet (ha, also forgot that one), with a ghostly white, skeletal face of nausea. My skin tone matched somewhere between my silver flute and cream-colored shirt. Finally, after my diagnosis, my doctor instructed me to prioritize. I followed the instructions, changed my view on stress, and believed that I had moved on from the over-committed phase in my life. I didn’t.
Back to this year: I over-loaded myself again, clearly, but this time it had minimal physical consequences. I wasn’t nauseated nor did it take a doctor to tell me to change my habits. However, my work performance suffered. I worked maybe 3 hours a week during my busy weeks, missed posts for our newspaper’s social media, turned in assignments *barely* in time, and finished the minimum for getting the figure skating team to function. Looking back, I still have my practically 4.0 GPA and could technically write on my resume that I completed those roles, but there was no fulfillment from any one of them. I did the bare minimum to complete (if that) my role in each, with no pride in saying I changed the organization or made a difference in any of those communities beyond my own priorities. It was less than satisfying, to say the least.
I had no reason to wear my hot pink jeans for three months and even found myself buying a nice meal here or eating a pint of ice cream there just to feel like I was rewarding myself for surviving another week. The enjoyment of my life revolved around these minor rewards, while my social life became shameful. Schedule something with me on a Saturday night and I might show up. No way am I going to reach out to even my closest friends to spend time together. But at least I wasn’t nauseated? At least I wasn’t underweight?
I think you get it. Hot pink jeans, confidence, fulfillment, and social happiness in my life = nonexistent since January, although the coinciding nonexistence of my acid reflux disease led me to believe that it was all okay.
But I finally kicked myself in the butt upon realization of my own state (along with a few other people, to whom I am forever grateful, even if they aren’t aware of it) to get my life figured out. Clearly, my plan of just dabbling into a lot of things I was interested in, which lead to leadership roles, which lead to madness…wasn’t working out. Finally time to prioritize again, for the first time since 8th grade. Fortunately it was easier this time to figure out what are my priorities. I’ve stepped back from a few of my responsibilities and am gradually transitioning out of those roles, although my life will still be busy at least until the end of the academic year. I’m finally allowing myself to re-develop a sane life, slowly but surely. Una vida sana: one of those goals that I set for myself while I was in Bolivia, but a goal I didn’t allow myself to pursue with my absurd expectations.
TL;DR: I’ve had a stressful few months, but I’m finally prioritizing. Stay tuned for potentially more of those insightful blog posts I saw myself writing when re-designing this website. I might even wear my hot pink jeans tomorrow, in which case a vocal recognition for that step forward in my life would be appreciated. Also, please don’t take it personally if I’ve seemingly ignored you or been transient in the past few months. It’s not you; it’s me.