Happy New Year everyone!

Happy New Year everyone!

Since getting back into the flow of uni work, I’ve come to realise recently that just maybe some of my work-life balances aren’t as healthy as they probably should be.

These days, I wouldn’t dare submit an essay the day it’s due – I’m too worried something will go wrong and it won’t make it in. For some reason, I need for my essays to be submitted the night before it’s due (at the latest). For me, it’s a comfort to see it’s actually gone through and I still have a little time to change anything if need be.

You’d think submitting an essay two days before it’s due would be a relief – it is, but I still worry the link’s been lost or I’ve forgotten to add something and time after time I’ve resubmitted an essay three or four times because there’s just one more thing I think it needs.

I bet my parents are rejoicing (to an extent) when I tell them sometimes – my first year of GCSE saw me doing the bare minimum. I think part of it is me realising that the bare minimum for me is disappointing; it makes me guilty, because I know I’m better than that.

If I haven’t learnt my flashcards to the dot the day of the exam, I’m scared I’ll fail. My best isn’t always phenomenal, but I feel worse if I do badly and I hadn’t tried my hardest. Maybe it’s because I know that if my results are less than stellar, there’s no way anyone can tell me it’s because I didn’t try hard enough. It’s still gutting but at least I have the peace of mind that maybe I just can’t necessarily do that particular subject.

I think I have quite low standards for myself, too. It’s laughable how excited I get when I get good feedback on some work. I wrote the beginning of a script for this year’s module at the start of the year, and I still can’t stop fixating on the positive feedback. I’ve always been the kind of person who feels boosted by positive feedback. I’m petty enough that part of me wants to do better than the teacher thinks I can do sometimes (ahem, see History A Level Vietnam War coursework) but generally speaking, I can feel deflated if my feedback has no positives.

I guess part of me thinks I have something to prove. I’m studying for a degree in subjects I should excel at; I get worried when I don’t do as well as I’d like to.

It’s hard I suppose to fall out of old habits sometimes, even if they’re not as healthy as they should be. I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person who doesn’t need to check everything twice before submitting, which to some extent is a good thing – just maybe not when it’s quite so neurotic.

But maybe this next decade needs to be different. I’d like to learn to be (a little) more carefree with my attitudes to work. I don’t think submitting my essays a few days in advance is a problem, but I should definitely learn to be more conscious that as long as I’ve checked it to the best of my ability before submitting it, that it doesn’t need any more work.

I’d like to learn to be calmer when it comes to exams. There’s nothing I can do to change the outcome the second I leave the exam hall – whatever happens, happens. Funnily enough, the exams last year actually went pretty well (doesn’t mean I didn’t think about them throughout the summer). I’d like to learn to leave my worries on the exam hall floor.

I’d like to learn to see the positives of my work. To be able to say ‘Okay, this bit wasn’t perfect, but that’s fine’. I’d like to learn that perfect shouldn’t have to be the operative word every time. I’d like to incorporate more positive attitudes to my work. Perfect isn’t always necessary; I think for me, it’s probably too much to have to think of everything as perfect every time. I’d like to learn to look at my work and not be consumed by the negatives.

I feel like a hypocrite sometimes when I’ve said to others that they should be careful to balance their work-life time effectively, when I know I’m not necessarily doing the same. The title of this column could be considered an example of said hypocrisy.

Should probably start taking my own advice, soon.

Despite what I’d like to learn, one thing I have learned the past few months is that it’s okay for me to leave university with a 2:1 if it means I’m okay. A First Class, and that craved perfection isn’t worth risking my mental health.

As we head into 2020 and this next decade, I need to remember that my mental health is more important than being perfect.

By Tirion Davies