Personal essay: one students’ journey to self compassion
By COLLEEN SULLIVAN
Humans fail. It’s one of those frustrating non-negotiables in life. We make mistakes, we confront rejection and we stumble. One consolation in this unfortunate reality is that the sting of failure only lasts a short while before we recover. Self-compassion sounds easy enough and it can be easy, after practice.
This idea focuses on the individual. It doesn’t entail overcoming adversity through some superhuman feat, nor does it mean proving oneself to others. Self-compassion is centered on the idea that one should never tear oneself down after failure, which, honestly, everyone does from time to time. I’ve learned that instead of always blaming yourself, it’s important to acknowledge the mistake, learn from it and actively choose think positively. I’m certainly guilty of nit-picking flaws and letting those things become bigger than they are.
My choice to end a three-year, mostly long distance relationship was a huge adjustment. Initially, I felt stunned and let down because I wouldn’t have that person in my life anymore. I started concentrating on things I thought I should have done better and undermining my confidence to rationalize the failure of the relationship.
After spending an entire Sunday sitting in bed, watching a Harry Potter marathon and eating a pint of Haagen-Dazs, I started to reflect on why I even felt this way. Although wallowing in the comfort of my bed was a good way to process my feelings, it was unfair to place the brunt of the blame on myself.
I started to see that I couldn’t have done anything to save the relationship, unless I was willing to sacrifice my ambitions. The differences between us were obvious. While I envisioned myself having a full-time career after college, my ex-boyfriend wanted to start a family sooner rather than later. It felt really disappointed when I felt like my plans weren’t being recognized or respected in the relationship. Bending to their whim was exhausting, fruitless and unrealistic for the long-term.
I made the decision to cut it. Constantly berating myself wasn’t healthy and the realization that I couldn’t have done anything to preserve the relationship showed me that my actions were brave. The original disappointment I felt stemmed from my desire for everything in my life to be perfect, which isn’t humanly possible. Ultimately, things that may seem imperfect to me could be beautiful to others.
This sudden turn of my mindset helped me hop out of bed, put on an outfit that made me feel good and grab a latte with some friends. There are too many wonderful things in life to let something negative hold me, or anyone else for that matter, back. Changing my mindset eventually helped me learn from the past and move forward with a renewed sense of confidence.