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To Others, It May Look Like I 'Failed' Today. Here's Why I Didn't.

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Looking in from the outside, it would be easy for anyone to say I failed today. The list of things I didn’t do stretches a mile long. I didn’t pay attention during my meeting with my advisor. I didn’t understand anything my advisor said. I didn’t read any of the papers he sent me either. I didn’t do any dishes or laundry or cleaning. And I didn’t cook anything either. I didn’t go for a run today. I didn’t even take a shower.

Here are some other things I didn’t do today. I didn’t make myself throw up. And I didn’t cry so hard that I made myself sick. I didn’t lie on the floor of my bathroom for hours in a growing pool of my own snot, vomit, and tears, panicked and unable to move. I didn’t abuse myself with a running monologue of how I wasn’t good enough and would never be good enough. And I didn’t tear myself down for all of the things on my list of “didn’ts.”

So here are the things I did do. I ate a healthy breakfast and survived my meeting with my advisor. I rewarded myself by watching a movie. Later, when I felt the sadness creeping in, I brought out my guitar and made some beautiful music. Just for me. Because it made me happy. And proud. I ordered good food to eat because I knew I wasn’t going to cook. And I didn’t beat myself up when I overate. I worked on my cross-stitch project because the focus it requires helps to calm my anxious mind, and I reached out to friends to try to stave off the loneliness. I even tried to go for a run with the local running club. I cried with anxiety at each stage of getting ready, but I pushed on. Until, that is, I realized my bike had a flat and I had no way to get to the run. Then I cried because I had worked up the courage to go and now couldn’t. But, I was kind to myself and just worked out a bit in the house instead.

I did not fail today — because I made it through another day as best I could and am still here to fight some more tomorrow. Because I did not give up or give in. And because I gave myself all the love I knew how. I did not fail today, and I will not fail tomorrow. Every day that I am still here and breathing and fighting is a day I have won. And I will keep fighting and winning. Because I am worth it. Because I know things will get better. Because for everything I didn’t do, there is something I did do — something I did for myself to help myself make it through another day.

Because even as I lie here crying at the end of yet another hard day, I am crying not because of the things I didn’t do but because of the things I did do. Because of how hard I fought to get through today. Because I love myself enough to continue to fight, even though it’s just so hard sometimes. I am not crying out of anxiety or fear or anger. No, I am crying out of sadness because I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I am crying out of hope because I do believe things will get better. I am crying because even though today was hard, I know I have the strength in me to keep fighting. I am crying because I know how hard tomorrow might be, but I am committed to facing it with as much strength and courage and patience and love as I can muster. Because that is the most I can ask of myself.

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Thinkstock photo by Valeriy Katrevich

Originally published: May 1, 2017
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