Self-Reflection In The Office Quiet Room

Self-Reflection In The Office Quiet Room

This semester has been tough, and I admit that I am overwhelmed most of the time. Leaving my internship during the week often leaves me feeling like a vegetable when I return to my apartment. The weekly night classes are also really starting to take their toll. I hadn’t been feeling like myself for a while, but I shrugged it off and told myself to “grin and bear it” or “endure the moment”, but alas, the moment didn’t end, it just got more intense. I realize that, to some extent, I am growing, being stretched beyond what I thought were my limits and taken out of my comfort zone just about every day. However, my struggles still lingered and morale was starting to wain.

One day a few weeks ago, I agreed to take on a project that was the complete opposite of what I meant when I asked for more work and exposure at my internship. The project may have literally given me more work and exposure, but I’m not exaggerating when I say my heart sank so much that I felt like an anchor kept it weighed down. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, I forced myself to press on to a more laborious project. It wasn’t working. Taking a deep breath, I stopped typing and tried to mentally reset, but all bodily signals rejected my attempts to refocus.

I needed a break.

I remembered a flyer for a quiet room I’d seen in the office and made my way there. Pulling the door back, I finally let out a deep sigh of relief when I saw no one was in there. I felt anxious sitting down in the chair, wondering how long I should stay and blocking out the feeling of slacking off. It took longer than I’d like to admit, but little by little I felt the tension resolve and the anchor seemed to disappear, lifting my heart back into my chest. I realized at that moment that I needed to take better care of myself and felt a little guilty for letting my stress and discomfort get to that point.

So often we are taught about “grunt work” and “earning your keep” or whatever other phrases can be used to justify overwhelming/frustrating/tense/other circumstances at an internship or a job… but stress is real, ya’ll. You do not always have to “suck it up” when things get too tough, and stress happens to all of us (read: you are not weak/slacking off for needing a break or a chance to breathe). It’s important to take care of oneself — whatever that means for you. If it means taking up a class or new hobby for fun, sweating it out in the gym, or talking to someone, do it. While I was still in Syracuse taking classes, I’d go to the free yoga classes in Newhouse. Here in D.C. I recently started a fitness class to help me release both mentally and physically.

There are only a few weeks left in the semester, and honestly getting to the end is always the most challenging part… but I’m going to relax and be kind to myself as I continue learning new ways to take care of myself.



Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a second-year Public Diplomacy graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.