With the term in full swing, it’s also peak midterm season! Things haven’t been going too great for me, but this is why I want to share this week’s topic: self-compassion.
This term is the first time I’m using my accommodations and I was really excited to get access to them. But, when it came time to ask for my first extension or take my first midterm with Accommodated Testing Services (ATS), I felt guilty. I felt as though I was “cheating” and “taking the easy way out”. I mentioned a few weeks ago that this is part of the stigma that comes up with the topic of accessibility, but I have truly begun feeling it.
So far, I have asked for two extensions. My first thoughts were “My professors are going to think I’m annoying” (which, they won’t) and “this should have been done on time, it’s not that difficult” (that doesn’t matter when you’re too unwell in the first place). When my requests were accepted, I was instantly relieved and my anxiety and stress immediately dropped. I still had to do the work, but I could focus on myself and what I needed first. When I came around to do the assignments later, I was able to focus better and submit work that I believed was of my best ability.
For my midterms with ATS, I truly believed I was given an upper hand while taking a break during a midterm (one of my accommodations). However, those breaks allow me to calm down and refocus when I start getting distracted by rustling paper, outdoor sounds, and by the amount of time I have left. That way, when I am actually writing I am able to do the best I can.
So, why do I doubt myself? To be quite honest, I am skeptical of my own needs sometimes. I often lack self-compassion and the ability to listen to myself when I need breaks or to re-align my priorities. This is an important topic beyond accessibility needs as well, and I am still learning how to increase this self-compassion. But I recognize the need for it. We are at U of T to learn and to gather skills for the future. We all have different ways of navigating to our own definition of success, and we have to listen to ourselves when we need to take a different route than what others may take.
I’ve mentioned the importance of taking breaks, proper time management, and forgiveness of oneself when things go wrong. But I really want to highlight that we have to remove the doubt we have about our thoughts and feelings. You are valid. You belong here. And, you can do it.
This upcoming Reading Week, take some time to honestly reflect on yourself, your goals, and how you truly are. Try to take a day to rest and see how you truly feel. Check-in with yourself, treat yourself and be compassionate. Accessibility Services is hosting a dialogue Enhancing my Student Experience: Mental Wellbeing on February 20th to highlight this topic more. For those looking for a fun break, we also have a recharge social with the Get Crafty crew on February 19th!