Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Am I a Success?

Rebekah talks about mental health and how we define success.
- Rebekah

Success can be a difficult thing to define, and many people view it in different ways. Growing up, I had a very categoric view of success, and it had all to do with my results, from academia to sport to music. These were results that you could clearly see on the paper, and in my mind, this meant an indication of achievement. Unfortunately, at times I was so set on my pursuit for this type of success that it came at the expense of my physical and mental health. Take my GCSEs in 2014; I achieved a myriad of A and A* grades, but I was also ill for the entirety of the exam period due to stress, plus for 6 months afterwards. My mental health also suffered, as this was the time that I started to experience episodes of depression and then that summer I began a decline into anorexia. Therefore, were my GCSEs really that successful?

The other problem with basing your success on these kinds of results is that it can become so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Due to my family’s love for sport and our many years of competitions, many of our family friends are also very similar. When going around the dinner table, I can often be left feeling a bit inadequate, as someone will have been at the National Cross Country Champs last weekend, or someone else will be preparing to head off to an international competition. Even at family gatherings, where I am surrounded by more ‘normal’ people, my brother (who is a national and international level cyclist) will be asked all about his cycling, and when my grandparents or cousins turn to me there is not that same standout thing to ask me about. These things are easy to talk about, the obvious signs of achievement. And don’t get me wrong, they are without a doubt impressive and worthy accomplishments that shouldn’t go unnoticed. I am incredibly proud of my brother and his achievements in the cycling world, however sometimes this leads me to feel like the inadequate sibling, the unimpressive family member.

Ultimately, there are so many different kinds of success and so many different ways to measure it. Everyone is different, with different interests and different goals in life. My own achievements in life are different to those of people around me, and some of them can’t be printed on paper like an exam or competition result can, but that doesn’t make them any less remarkable. I am a daughter, sister, friend. I have talents in music, writing, and cooking. I have friends who chose me because I am me and that is good enough. And I’m fighting my own battles with mental illness every day, defying my thoughts every time they tell me to give up and give in. So if like me, you’ve ever felt that you are have been unsuccessful or a failure in any way, then this post is for you to remind you that firstly, you are not alone, and secondly, that you are incredible just for being you and doing your best.

I'm Rebekah, studying French and History at the University of Nottingham. I've had my own struggles with my mental health over the years, but hope to use my experiences to hopefully help others going through similar situations. However, my mental health does not define me, and I'm also a keen baker, traveller, and dog-lover. I also write my own blog at https://thecloudsdontownthesky.wordpress.com/ and tweet at @rebekahdussek.



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