After only one semester of graduate school, I found myself feeling beaten down, cynical, defensive, and exhausted. As someone who genuinely enjoys being in school, it feels like this past fall wasn’t even school – it was a test on life and I’m not sure how well I passed.
The past few months have been challenging in ways that were obvious, but I went into the next phase of my life in total denial. I moved away from my favorite place in the world for school leaving my long-term boyfriend and kickass friends back home, I left the workforce to be totally broke, I went off my anxiety and asthma medicine because I no longer had health insurance and half-assed a life in Ann Arbor.
I say half-assed because that’s exactly what I did. I was so sad to leave my life in Chicago that I spent the latter half of 2016 focusing on why I didn’t want to be in Ann Arbor. Some reasons are fair, I’m a minority everywhere I go; Ann Arbor is an overpriced elitist hub; my internship makes me question my decision to be in school daily; not to mention the stress of my internship supervisor trying to fail me unjustifiably. I was sick, grumpy, and ready to argue anything anytime because literally everything people said to me felt like an attack on my livelihood.
When my semester ended a few days before Christmas, I was too ready to run away. I needed to run away, to not even look at the spaces that have been holding so much anxious and negative energy that I radiated. By the middle of December, I felt like I had totally lost myself in a matter of four months, and that terrified me.
I’ve never been one for new year’s resolutions because January first has always felt like any other day to me, but this year I think I need one. This year I need a resolution in order to stay myself. This year I need a resolution to be as positive and flexible as I can bear. Because burnout was becoming tangible in a way that it never has throughout the years that I’ve done social justice work. And in only four months I began questioning the very things that make me who I am: my love for people, passion for justice, and enthusiasm about life.
So this year, I’m making a resolution to stay as Kara as I can be at all times. To invest in taking care of my mind, my body, my soul, and allowing what that means to evolve. To being a hermit when it feels right, to being social when I feel safe. To ignoring the darkness around me and making the best of something that challenges the core of my being. Because I hear that’s what life is about.