How to graduate after twelve years of failure
Have you ever felt your body numbing with the fear that you have fallen behind in life? Have you ever caught yourself thinking that you are completely in the wrong path but you need to clean your way back home and start all over? Do you think that your graduation seems impossible and you feel depressed about this mistake of your life to leave your studies behind?
Anxiety and guilt make you feel like a bin full of rubbish. And you blame yourself for that and guilt comes up again. This circle never ends and the result is that this anxiety never turns into good things. You feel that you need to clean your past so as to continue in the future, but this cleaning seems vast and difficult. Thus, you want to cover yourself with a heavy blanket and die.
You have no idea how much I feel you, my friend. Honestly, you have no idea. It took me 12 years to get my degree and during all this time, I thought it was impossible. During those years, I overworked, over partied, over blamed myself, was over depressed, over over over…..over!
So, this continued until a year ago. I ended up physically and emotionally wrecked. I had just turned 31 and I had done nothing in my life for the past 10 whole years. I was living in the same town where I had moved to study and didn’t have even the courage to move from there. At least I had ended the destructive relationship which was one of the reasons I reached that low and that was a huge step for me at this time.
My work experiences weren’t much different. I used to change jobs once or twice a year. Most of them didn’t pay at all or paid so little that I couldn’t pay even for my food. I was so depressed that I couldn’t even get out of my bed in the morning. Needless to say that I was a horrible employee and I blamed myself for that. A depressed person that is used to be the victim and accepts toxic behaviors, is never a good employee. A person with no dreams and motivation for life is never a good person to work with. Zero confidence, zero self-respect,zero…zero….zero….
All this external decadence led to my depression and then I had to look the consequences in the eyes. My house was a mess, my body was a mess, my financial situation did not allow me to make changes at all and I had this woodworm in my heart. I hadn’t got my degree.
When I was thinking of writing something, I used to say: If you want to write something, work for your graduation project. Any time I thought of reading a book, I said “If you want to read something read for your degree”. The studies were a heavy storm on my chest that I could not overcome so I ended up laying in bed depressed for 6 years. Generally, whatever I was thinking about it ended up feeling guilty about not having the courage to study for my degree. So this circle became a disease in my head. And no one knew anything about it, because I told them I had graduated, because I was feeling shame.
I would write every day in my journal: graduation project. But when I opened the file I would feel anxiety, stress, and panic so I couldn’t work on it. Then the hours passed with me browsing around Facebook and other shit and it was time to go to work. The environment there was stressful for sure and the misery went on. I was not driving the car of my life anymore. I neglected myself, my health, my future…I wanted to die.
One the other hand, my fake social smile was my shield. Everyone would love my company, I always used to say the best jokes and stuff. I always encouraged the people that I spoke with and I was always willing to help. I was the motivational friend, encouraging people to do things and start over. Thus, no one could know that I didn’t have the will to get up, eat, bathe and live. I had fallen behind in my life and that numbed me with fear. So, I turned 31 and I hadn’t graduated yet.
One morning though everything changed. I got up grieving again for my hard life and the stone that was always dragging me on the floor. In the next moment though, I felt that I had enough. This situation went on for 6 whole years. I could not tolerate this grief anymore. I said to myself that if I wanted to die, I should try to find a way to kill myself that day. Poison? No no, I can’t. Car accident? No no, I can’t. Hanging myself? No way! So I said. That’s it. If you can’t die today, you have to live. You will die anyway very soon as everyone else, this is not an accomplishment! Until you die, you have to live! I have had enough with this behavior. And I got up quickly.
Maybe you are in a worse situation than I was, or maybe worse if there is something worse. Anyway, it doesn't matter. What will make my heart happy, is that you get a notebook and a pencil right now my friend and make this your journal for the next period of time. When you will have climbed this heavy mountain and look at the view from above, you will laugh at yourself. Trust me.
Forgive yourself about this matter. Whether you believe it or not, the first step you need to work on is to forgive yourself for falling behind on your graduation day. You don’t know it, but you are not alone to this. There are so many people that struggle with their studies and the balance with work or anxiety. The education system has failed many people and the worse you can do is to adopt the idea of the system, that you are a failure. That everyone is perfect, except you. The truth is that no one knows what they are doing, everyone is lost inside.
The politicians have invested time to “educate” themselves on how to create depressed masses that they feel they have failed. Imagine, in my country, two of the politicians that scream for long term students to be deleted from the universities had taken ten years to graduate and the third politician has never got his degree!
These people call long term students tramps and thieves, so as to make us feel garbage. Five years ago I was almost deleted from the university but had a lucky escape. I could not sleep, I wasn't even sure if my heart was beating in my chest. Some others didn’t make it. In six months from now, you will be over of this psychology, which is a whole scam. You will have survived my friend, and what now seems impossible, it will be your reality. I promise.
Print this list.
When the water reached my chin, the time started counting down. I got frustrated and I started having my first serious panic attacks. I started realizing that falling behind in life started being dangerous for my life. I started searching on google to find something help me start over from zero. I was lucky enough to come across this beautiful list. I printed it and took two markers. The pink one was for the things I already did. I marked only three things because…these were the only things I did. I did this to encourage myself that I was not in zero.
9. Drink coffee
12. Be open
13. Don’t give up
You already do the number 13, otherwise, you wouldn’t read this article now.
With the yellow marker, I highlighted the things I wanted to make a habit in the following days. I marked:
1. Make lists (that I could follow)
8. Sing in the shower
31. clean your workplace.
My desk was a picture of my mind. Mess and misery. Needless to say, this added so much in my anxiety every time I tried to start my project.
I think it is vital for your list not to get overwhelming. If you put too many things you will ruin it. Mark 1–4 new things, and when you manage to make them yours, level up, mark them with pink and then mark new three things with yellow. The last thing on this list is the most difficult. It is “Number 31. Finish something”. Believe me, the 30 things will lead you to this and then you will have killed your woodworm that is currently eating your soul.
Put your body in the procedure. Every step is demanding, I know. But when we think of exercise, we always think of gyms, running and sweating. No no no! When you are at 00.00, 00.10 is a success! If I had forced myself starting sweating and running, I bet my life that after two days I would return to the comfort zone of my death. I started with ten minutes walking every day, no matter the time. Whenever I could. Success is life and it has nothing to do with the lack of movement.
I used to think of fat writers and drunk musicians that created masterpieces and thought that these were paradigms. No. No. No. They weren’t. Put your body into your work and the procedure of your success and trust me your happy cells with pass the message to your brain that the old days of depression are over. Before you sit on your clean desk, go for a short walk and listen to music. If you get anxious with your project, do the same as a way of escape. I don’t know why it is said that smoking helps with anxiety. Walking does.
Embrace anxiety. Anxiety and panic are negative feelings that no one wants to have in their life. In my 20’s I avoided negative feelings pretending they did not exist. Let’s be honest. No one wants to stress in our lives but everyone does though. It is inevitable not to have feelings, pleasant or negative. If we are able to feel negative feelings we are also able to have positive. This means that we are alive. Only dead people feel nothing. So what I learned from my procrastination and avoidance story, is that I need to learn to move forward in glory, no matter how embarrassing or stressful is the procedure. Just keep walking with your chin up with pride, no matter what is happening inside. We are brave kids.
Have short term plans, never think of the final result that stresses you. Move your mind in two weeks from now and see how you will be feeling after working for 7 hours for your project. Move your mind after two months and see how you will be feeling after 21 hours of working or studying? How will you feel when you will have passed one lesson? Think of projects and subjects. Think and plan only the small things that are the cornerstones for your final result.
Take it easy. Honestly. I know you feel overwhelmed with the many subjects or the huge project you need to do in order to complete your studies. But this is the basic weigh that lead you to your current situation. Are there 10 subjects that you need to pass? Study for three. Two. Four. I don’t know! Just try to reduce the number. Perfectionism to pass all them together is your enemy. Perfectionism and anxiety. This is what you need to fight and not the subjects. Is there only a project you need to finish? Work on it only half an hour per day.
00.30 is more than 00.00. The first day, find some of the sources you will need to start. The next day, write one paragraph. Embrace the mistakes you will make, edit your project. Just do something small every day. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your future self will enjoy the results of your current work, the same way you are now suffering from the result of your previous work.
Dig deep to what you are trying to avoid. Maybe it sounds strange, but there is a great possibility that you are procrastinating and delaying the next step of your life because you are avoiding something that lies deeper. You are afraid of something that maybe comes next in your life or it is just in your mind. Personally, I was always afraid of success and the next step in my life.
Since we are kids and start to understand the environment we live in, we hear people talking about levels in life, success, and stuff that not everyone wants or can fulfill. That causes stress or even worse depression and procrastination because of the feeling of fear. This is one of the most important things in the procedure of our growth. To recognize the root of what you are afraid and work on it in any direction. It is the most important realization in our growth procedure, that’s why it is the most difficult as well.
Share it with someone, if possible. I hadn’t told anyone about the fact that I had not graduated. Everyone had finished their studies and I felt shame for myself. In my CV I had mentioned that I had graduated so I could not tell anything to friends from work. My family would always ask me and that made me feel even more stress and guilt, so I told them that I had finished but I did not go to graduation because I felt shy. (which was true, I don’t like public events and things like that).
But one morning, my friend saw my agenda where I used to write forever my to-do list, on which I never worked. Then we talked about it, I felt shame at first but something beautiful happened afterwards. It was the first time I had ever shared this or anything else with anyone. It was so relieving to see someone laugh with a feeling and a situation that had turned into the weight of my life. Ask for help whenever this is possible. Believe me, asking for help when you have fallen, is the bravest and most beautiful gift you can do for yourself. It is the hand that will lift you.
Extra bonus funny tip: Bring Cher into your life. Listen to her last album with Abba songs. While cooking, in your shower, while cleaning but not in your walk! It is practically impossible to listen to her and walk because you will have to dance.
One year ago, some months ago basically I could not imagine that I would have done it. My mind had made it exasperatingly difficult. All I needed to do was make an easy plan and work on it every day for just half an hour. And find the deep reason I was afraid to graduate and fight with it with a burning heart. When I climbed this cliff of life, not only did I get lessons for my life and got stronger, but also learned how to keep going no matter what. I learned that everything that sounds impossible can be my reality in some months or years span. And this new self is the one I am competing now because I have changed.
Whatever you do in your life, please make sure that it serves you first. I hope I have made clear enough that I feel your struggle and everyone that has experienced the same situation feels you. Rules in society are fine, but people seem not to take human factors seriously enough. That’s why our society is full of people feeling guilty and broken. This is not what we need for our current and future society. The only way to fix this is by helping each other personally.
Start today but remember: The only way to go far is with polite self-talk and positive action.
Would you ever talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself?