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The Mass Media

My Student Identity

Technically, if you remember my article a little under a year ago, “OCD and Identity,” you will remember that “student” is more of a label than a facet of one’s identity. But to make things simpler, for now I am adopting my wonderful new identity as a student for the three and a half months this semester will last.

What does my student identity comprise of?

First, I have had this first week of school to figure out what works and what will not work according to this new identity change. A nurse I had spoken to for a very long time in my last hospitalization discussed with me the importance of my job as a student. He described from his own self-disclosure of dealing with anxiety, depression, and procrastination on top of that, that making school his number one priority allowed him to focus extensively on the work he had to do and making sure he did it. He practiced a lot of mindfulness while doing the schoolwork, being present in the moment and not judging the experience for anything beyond “it just is.” By using this mindfulness, he was able to enjoy the process of schoolwork rather than focusing too much on what the outcome was going to be.

This has inspired me quite a lot, as I have already gotten down into the books (so much text!) and have decided for at least the beginning of the semester that I will be hitting the books heavily during the weekdays. My best time to work will be mornings and early afternoons to late afternoons at the most. I definitely have to put away the books by seven in the evening, as anything after that distracts me from getting to sleep. I also want to have my weekends spotless of any academic work. I do not want to even glance at a textbook over the weekends.

I want to stay on top of my schoolwork, and maybe even slightly ahead. Now, I’m certain these expectations will change as the semester goes on, so I am aware that I will need to adapt my style to whatever circumstances arise. That will be… interesting, to say the least.

Another thing I expect myself to do as a student is attend classes.

I will also need to get enough sleep. This means I have to make my nine-at-night sleep schedule a priority. So far I have been having trouble staying asleep throughout the night, and with less naps to no naps during the day, this disruption is already starting to wear me down. Luckily, I only have school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so my Tuesdays and Thursdays are more open.

Hand in hand with sleep is getting enough to eat. Making sure I eat plenty before classes is a must, and number one for my proper self-care.

I will also require breaks during all this intense academic work. So far, I’ve experimented and came to find that I cannot take Internet breaks. Otherwise, I just get lost on the Internet and wind up procrastinating. So instead, I will use listening to music and practicing my art as breaks, or reading for a different class entirely.

Another motivating factor for me and this new identity is that I want to be able to do the fun things I enjoy. For instance, I still have about nine books out from the library, and I absolutely want to read most if not all of them. Having the weekends and evenings open will allow me to do that—plus blogging and vlogging. Ah, I miss those.

While the nurse had school as his number one priority, I am tweaking that a bit in order to have my health and wellness (physically and emotionally) as my number one priority.

This leads me to my concluding point: that all of this identity stuff is founded in ignoring the OCD, depression, self-harm and suicidality. So far, I have been able—with waning focus—to push aside OCD’s intrusions so as to continue reading. But, in the future, will I be able to do this? I’m not sure.

I know that so far I am extracting a LOT of inner strength in order to keep up with my own demands and expectations. My trepidation is that this will require more strength than I am able to expel. At the same time, my cognitive reframing says that I am stronger than I think and I am, and stronger than I feel.

Lastly, I need to work on giving myself more credit. Putting this new identity forward is no easy task, and so I need to remind myself that while it may only be the first week, I am still a fierce, shining unicorn!
Stay strong, peeps.