The second Tuesday of November 2018, the week of the tenth TechNews issue of the Fall 2018 semester, readers will likely notice that the weekly TechNews is markedly lighter than prior ones in the semester - being only eight pages, as opposed to the 12, 16, or even 20 pages of every other issue in the semester under me as editor-in-chief. Since coming into the position, I have seen it as a product of love and a source of pride, my singular focus outside of my classes for the semester.
This was a far cry away from my prior semesters at Illinois Tech; oftentimes I would make it a point of overextending myself and my involvements far beyond the standard protocol. Whether that meant writing half of every issue myself or going out of my perceived way to prompt my other team members (who are just as responsible for this paper’s success as I am, but that is a point to be covered in another article) to explore their creative potentials, TechNews has become a central part of my life, and seeing it filled with content every week has become a sort of metric by which I measure my success as the leader of this organization.
However, this week would, by these measures, register as a failure on my part as a leader, a failure on my part as a contributor, a failure on my part as editor-in-chief. Of course, the issue will still have content. I have a whole team of writers, photographers, and editors to rely on, and without them, none of this would even be possible. Still, this week only sees a single piece by me: no grand campus developments, no student organization coverage, no video game news, no Hidden History.
But, as I sit in my room alone, having spent the last two days drowned in my own illness and isolation, do I see this as failure? No, I don’t. Prompted by a sudden onset of sickness, I found myself physically forced to take a step back from all of my obligations for the duration of a weekend. That meant no articles, no event attendance, no homework, not even checking my email. Being sick for the second time this semester, all the while questioning and doubting everything about myself and what I do in a vicious reoccurrence of anxiety and depression (with which I have struggled all my life) made me face the truth I’ve ironically been trying to work and overload myself around all this time: I am overworking myself, and it is killing me.
Stopping and taking this kind of reflection was (and still is) new territory for me as a person. For the past several years, I’ve been trying to define myself less by what I do every day and more by what I feel at the end of each day. This society is one in which we are quick to assign dollar values and productivity points to people and define them by their arbitrary contributions to artificial systems. We lose track of what we truly are as people and what really matters to us. It was only when I was at my lowest point this semester that I truly realized this.
These sorts of tipping points are common in our lives, at different levels of impact and realization. I oftentimes find myself asking “why am I doing this?” or “what is the point of this?” without ever actually stopping and listening to these cues. The need to push yourself to do more work can and should be balanced by the need to pull yourself back and take a break. I can go on about the value of self-care from a human resources or psychology standpoint, but there are far more qualified sources than me to preach about the topic.
Instead, what I’m hoping to convey through this long-winded stream of consciousness is that it’s okay to feel the need to stop. It’s okay to listen to yourself and realize that not everything will fall apart like you fear it will. It’s okay to spend a weekend doing nothing “productive” because time you spend on yourself is ultimately the most productive you can ever be in this mortal coil.
It’s okay, and you will be okay.