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When I Feel Like I Don't 'Do Enough' as a University Student With Chronic Illness

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I am sitting in a meeting for a club at my university — a new club that I have just decided to try. I do what every university student does and buy into the line that teachers always tell you: “It will look good on your resume.” Does it look good on the resume? Who even knows?

While I am sitting there, trying to get my head around what it is this club actually does and feeling unwell (chronic illness and having your period is a great combination), some guy asks me why I did not go to their event held during the first week of university.

Why didn’t I go? I had to rest. I was trying not to get overwhelmed by the fact I was starting law and had to buy textbooks that cost a couple of weeks’ rent. I was trying to catch up with friends who had just come back from overseas. I was running the stall for a different club. I was helping plan a waterfall adventure trip for 50 people. I was running things for the student union on campus. I was doing all this while feeling terrible health-wise.

I try to not bring up my health reasons with complete strangers — a matter of personal preference. So I just mentioned the fact I was running around doing a million things.

Instead of replying and agreeing that everyone gets busy sometimes, he told me everything he had done that week, which was every club under the sun and a million very important meetings. Even though that week had been bad health-wise, I felt guilty for not doing more.

Later, I was talking to my partner about this and we put things in perspective. Last year, I was so ill. I was in the hospital. I was struggling. I couldn’t even walk. I went through misery. I have come so far health-wise but the fact remains: I can’t do everything. I can’t go rock climbing with all my friends. Surfing would knock me out completely. I can’t drink at every function. I can’t go out to bars every week. I can’t party. I can’t get every piece of assignment or homework in on time. Sometimes I have to make up tests. I fall behind in the housework. Emails get piled up. I sleep more than anyone I know. I am sorry I missed class again. As much as I try to convince myself I can do everything, I can’t. Neither should I try.

Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t do enough. I feel like my resume would be pathetic because I haven’t done enough and that anybody who saw it would laugh. I feel as though I should have more experience and more knowledge. I should have ticked more things off my list.

l am never going to be Supergirl. I am never going to be that guy who goes after every single opportunity available. I am going to be smart. I am going to put my health first this year. I am going to study hard and get the grades I want at university. I am going to have to be picky with my time, because I can’t do everything. What I really wanted to say to that guy is: I am doing enough with my life to make me happy.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 3, 2016
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