Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"

Set It Free

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Hey Friends!

This post was inspired by a video posted by FreshFitNHealthy on Facebook recently. She spoke about what she learned throughout her school years and I thought it was an interesting idea for a blog post and, well, it transformed a bit into how I have changed over the years in addition to some important lessons. I think that I grew quite a lot, as many do, in my first undergraduate at McMaster. I decided to get all personal with you all and hopefully some of the things I learned and found out about myself can relate to your life too.

School is not life.

This one was a big thing for me. My first year in McMaster, there are so many regrets I have for not spending as much time as I could have with my roommates and friends because I was in my room doing work and studying. I thought this was what I needed to do to get the grades I pressured myself to get. Your high school councillor puts this idea in your head that you will drop 15% and I was panicked so I became, what I like to call, a hermit most of the time.

I can’t say that those things that I missed out on were all due to this, as my poor confidence and shyness probably came into that issue as well to a degree, but it definitely played a big role.

Being a student is only one part of your life. You are YOU first and when you look back at your years in school, do you want to only remember being at your desk 24/7?

One bad grade is not the end of your life.

This is a tough pill to swallow. I still struggle with this one. I have set standards for myself and I can honestly say that they never stop getting higher. I’m a perfectionist. I want the best. It used to be that when I saw a 70 and I was disappointed. Now I see an 80 to an 85 and get that same feeling of…

“What did I do wrong?”

Soon, if I’m not careful, I will get that feeling when 90’s are not attained 100% of the time. This is not realistic. This is added stress that I don’t need. I’m working on it.

I have been there were I have broken down over a grade. It was my first chemistry midterm of my University career and I got a 45 or something like that. Yeah, chem and me are not close…I have never failed anything in my school life and you know what?

I broke down and I broke down hard. I called my Mom and just balled my eyes out saying how I was going to fail chemistry then I would never be able to get into graduate school and so forth. You know what I ended up with at the end of the year?

…a 7 (which at McMaster is between a 75-79%).

I was still unhappy with it because it’s not an honours grade, but I didn’t fail. I didn’t fail the course. I didn’t fail at life. This is a lesson that is rationally understood but still hard to actually believe sometimes. The fact of the matter is that one bad grade will not ruin your life.

Relax.

Another work in progress. I’m a naturally anxious person when things go differently then I expect. I also get really antsy around test situations and big events. I’m proud to say that over the years of school I have learned to accept that when writin a test, I will be as ready as I will ever be walking into that room so being nervous about it won’t help me. With that, instead of anxiously studying up until I literally get my book taken from me in the exam room, I now stop at least an hour before I write a test to wind down so I can walk into the exam in a calm state.

If you’re overly stressed, your brain won’t work. Been there done that.

BTW does anyone else really hate it when everyone is going over things with their friends outside the examination room? I purposely blast my music half of the time because I don’t want to hear them as I just feel like it will mess with me.

Having a social life is necessary.

During my year off school when I was working my two jobs, my friends started to take a back seat to work and me just being busy. At the time, my boyfriend and I had been living in our own apartment for a year by then and it was that year that I begin to get that ugly feeling of being incredibly lonely. Yes, I had him but I found out very quickly that I cannot go day-to-day doing the same thing over and over again. With work I was super social. Customer service was a huge part of my job. Then, when I came home, my boyfriend was often there but I still felt an incredible sense of emptiness. I then began to get mad at myself for not trying harder to find time to see my friends more because I was really pushing myself into a dark hole. It wasn’t really until last summer where I pushed myself to go out more that I really began to get my groove back. My happiness. Now that I’m back in school, I’m determined never to let that happen again.

It’s okay to think about yourself first.

I love seeing others happy. When I was younger, I cared more about putting others first then I did about myself and my needs. You may think this is a good thing, when in fact, if you forget about yourself, you will simply lose yourself. You will get walked all over and be forever unable to search for your own passions, make goals and reach them because you are too busy trying to give to everyone else.

It’s not selfish to want the best for yourself. To put yourself in your own lil bubble from time to time while you work towards your goals. Everyone does it. Everyone needs to do it because it’s how you pave your own way and be truly happy in your life.

Change happens.

Your lifelong plans can change. Some things cannot be planned out, written in stone and stuck to 100%. Try telling this to any Type A personality and see what happens. When I finally made the decision to stop my application process to clinical psych and take the year off, I was stressed to the max. Do you know how many times I asked my parents if I was doing the right thing? The guilt of my not sticking to my ‘plan’ was actually was eating me up no joke.

It’s hard to deal with uncertainty, but its something we all have to face because life happens. You change. Your wants, thoughts and beliefs then change and so plans will never be perfectly planned.

I learned that I can be loved.

For the first time I knew what it felt like to be loved (other than my family). I had some of the most amazing moments in this relationship and I met someone I could call my person.

With that I also learned that no matter how much love you have for someone…

Sometimes you have to let them go.

Love is definitely blind. My 5 year relationship was definitely a growth period for me. We had amazing times but as we moved into our final year, my perception of our future began to change. The truth is, opposites don’t last over the long-term. My love for him truly blurred any rational understanding for that statement. I knew we were very different and although there were some big things that may have set lil alarm bells off in my mind at the time, I just simply overlooked them.

It was one of the most drawn out and hardest things I had to accept. My best friend, the person who gave me so much, could not be “my person” for life.

The love is still there. The friendship is still there. For that I’m thankful, but I think we have both come to terms that a relationship is not the place for us. We are better as friends.

Well that was one reflective post. Got me feelin all kinds of fuzzies. Warm thoughts? Not sure, but a good release.

Thank you for listening to me and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Let me know if you can relate to anything I mentioned here.

Also..

What would be one thing you learned about yourself during your post high school years?

-Chelsea

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81 thoughts on “Set It Free

  1. awh so glad my video inspired you! And it is so true that grades are not EVERYTHING, as much as its hard to live by sometimes 🙂

    • Yes, thank you very much! It’s very hard to let that go because many of us define ourselves based on our student life. We need to learn to love other things about your lives and then those negative thoughts can be better controlled!

  2. Chelsea, thank you so so so much for writing this. This was so raw. it left me shaking.

  3. Chelsea, I read this with tears streaming down my face. This was beautifully written.

  4. It was like you read my mind.

  5. I have been reading this blog since day one but was never one to comment.However, this post really made me feel like I owed it to you to praise your writing. You wrote this with such honesty. It was beautiful. I struggle with the type a personality, so I know how hard it can be to be so vulnerable. Just admiring this isgiving me anxiety.

    • Oh no, no anxiety! Sometimes it’s quite stress relieving to release those thoughts on paper (or keyboard ha) so I always give some much thanks to you guys for hearing my thoughts and being so supportive when I open up about things. Being vulnerable is hard, but it’s required for us to connect with others and grow as a person. I’m so glad you liked the post and thank you so much for the feedback!

  6. Thank you so so os much for this!

  7. This was insanely powerful.

  8. I am not one to ever comment, however I just HAD to comment on this post. It was so beautiful aand honest.

  9. Hi Chelsea, thank you for writing this. This is something I was fighting tears with just moments before- the pressure to be perfect in school. At first it was 70s as you said- now anything less than an 85 leaves me in tears and I can’t explain why. Well…I can. For me school has always been the one area of my life I could brag about. I was never good at dieting. I was never good at weight lifting, dancing, piano class. But school was the one place where when I tried I did well. The pressure to be perfect in it continues

    • It’s a hard battle, I have always been known as the smartie all through highschool and then when you enter post secondary, you’re in a whole new pool. Those who are fighting against you for the same thing you want. It’s so hard to not be super tough on yourself but your health is more important. I’m sure you are great at other things too btw, never talk down about yourself, you just need to find those things 🙂

  10. ❤ loved this so so much

  11. I noticed I was shaking by the end of reading this, because I could relate so so so much.

  12. Chelsea, thank you so much for this reality check. I completely understand what you’re saying. For me, school brings out the type A personality.

  13. Thank you ❤

  14. This was amazing!

  15. One of your most compelling and wonderful blog posts yet

  16. Chelsea, thank you for your honesty in writing this. This is something I continue to struggle with. I mean, who keeps an agenda in the summer? I do. School really brought out my type A personality. It’s hard for me just to break from it.

    • Yes, deadlines, papers, dates in general can really give that personality type something to grasp onto and annoy the heck out of you. If you must have a planner, just write in blocks of time that relate to ‘you time’ and stick with it like you would a class. Ensure you are living your life!

  17. While I am no longer a student, this is something I can relate to.

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been faced with a lot of anxiety lately regarding my academics. For some reason I’ve always been the top of my class and now my grades are slipping. They’re still in the ‘ok’ range (around a 79 or so), but it is never good enough for me. For someone who adequate worth so much with her grades its been killing me, but I am glad to be reminded that it isn’t all

    • No your grades do not define you and trust me when I say I tell myself this all the time but it’s hard for it to actually permeate. You are doing great and it’s important to not run yourself into the ground for school because in the end you will end up hating the thing that you are working towards doing for the rest of your life.

  19. Thank you Chelsea. I completely remember my last year of undergrad. I was crying almost nightly over something academic related. Is my thesis good enough? If I don’t end this class with a 90, I won’t get the 87% average I need for U of T’s grad school program? OMG what if I never get into grad school? “FML I just got an 89% but I needed a 90%. what am I going to do now”… these thoughts literally haunted me nightly. And in the end, I realized I got into grad school with way higher marks than I needed, I am doing okay and yet, I missed out on so many memories.

  20. What I love about your blog is that it moves away from just fitness and food and weight, but overall is about lifestyle and life.

  21. Thank you for the reminder Chelsea. Your strength seriously is infectious.

  22. This post left tears in my eyes as I remembered the place I have been stuck in for a while. School is such a big part of my life that I let it overcome other parts. It’s always on my mind even as a Masters student whereby marks aren’t as important. I always felt that once I got into a masters program it would end. I thought that since I was ‘in’ I would be okay. But no, it continues. An 80 isn’t enough and only a 90 (which I haven’t seen yet) will make me smile. It’s crazy to know I’m wasting so much time and energy on this

    • It’s a hard thing to break thats for sure. Its a frustrating process to deal with because you know in yourself that it’s not needed but you can’t let it go at the same time. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of that point and hopefully one day it will stick! Good luck on your masters!

  23. Thank you so much for this Chelsea.

  24. This was amazing and probably the best article you’ve written yet. I could relate to so so much of this- from the marks, to the pressure to be perfect, to growing as a person and accepting the uncertainty of life.

  25. So I have questions: do you have anxiety? If so, how do you deal ( if not, you’re SO lucky! I’m super jeal ), besides the obvious: a work out, bubble bath, & glass of wine?

    • hahaha to drowning onself in wine. I do, I believe, have it to a degree. Both of my parents on anti anxiety meds due to physcial symptoms of it (my dad’s heart races and my mom has had a few panic attacks, yeah bad stuff) but I refuse to take anything even when I have some physcial symptoms. I tend to feel like someone is sitting on my chest (ie heavy breathing) when I get overwhelmed. This also happens when my sleep is getting really pushed aside so I know that when it starts happening that I need to get my stuff together and sleep more like a normal person. So for me, I ensure I try to get more sleep, I sweat it out at the gym as well and I write out lists that I can cross off stuff when I get things done. I will say that I have multiple sticky notes around (on top of my planner) to have due dates and chapter readings of all my classes in front of my face always so that I ensure I don’t miss anything. Call that OCD, but it helps me to relax because I know that I know everything I need to do. PLUS crossing things off is a very satisfying thing haha

  26. This was really great Chelsea. Thank you for sharing. I completely relate. For me marks and school is such a big part of my life, I almost forget who I am without it. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve canceled plans or skipped out on meeting friends to ‘study’ and looking back, I do regret it. But of course, even at my new school I haven’t changed. It’s too imbedded into me. I think it’s the whole school culture whereby we are expected to always do more than our peers. But I always wonder when is enough? You can’t just volunteer at one place it has to be 2, you can’t just work part time you have to work 2 jobs, you can’t just get 80s it has to be 90s… well maybe this is me and my type A personality.

    • for sure, it’s hard to determine when enough is enough and often it takes a second person to tell you you are overdoing it. Even still, with their comments, it’s hard to let something go. Try your best to let one thing go and see that nothing horrible happens (because it won’t) and then maybe you can realize that you don’t need to do everything to be you. Do something that is relaxing for once and for yourself and let yourself enjoy it.

  27. This could not have come at a more perfect time. I actually have my heart beating so so fast and was waiting to settle down to comment. Chelsea, this was beautiful and I cannot thank you enough for writing this piece. It was so true. School brings out the anxiety in me. Just tonight my best friend from home (who I never see) said “all you ever talk about is school. why don’t you just relax”. I realized that I cant. And I know it isn’t healthy. I’ve made myself sick in the past over the academic pressure to be perfect. As someone who has ‘failed’ at eating disorders (aka: succeeded but then had to recovery) I channel these obsessions to my academics. I’ve written exams with 104 fevers, I’ve also been hospitalized for exhaustion. I’ve also skipped class and been unable to get out of bed for 2 weeks because I got a 78% and not a 90%. As you can see very unhealthy past. I fight this everyday but it is never taken seriously. When I don’t do homework for a night, I am immediately reminded of the guilt I should take by peers and my parents and professors. it is just the environment of school

    • Wow, I’m so honored that it moved you to that degree! I can completely relate. I used to get sick almost every first day of school when my anxiety was really bad and rationally, I know it’s not needed but it’s something that my body does sometimes and I have no control. Congrats congrats congrats for overcoming an ED that is an amazing accomplishment and unfortunately, often those perfectionist needs do get channelled into something else. Oh the wonders of being a type A. I completely agree that an environment change can really help. I feel the most rejuivented when I go home probably because of the change in environment even if I’m doing the same things. If you have somewhere close to take yourself when you are feeling this way try your best to do it. It helps so much! I hope that you haven’t had a bad episode recently and that, although its hard to fight I know, that you are continuing to fight those thoughts back! ❤

  28. The best piece of advice/article I’ve read on this blog yet!

  29. I used to be the same way in high school and it was so rough. One thing that really helped me before a test would be to write down all of my fears on a piece of paper. They could be anything about the test I was about to take like “if I don’t pass this test, then I won’t get into ___ college” or “my parents will be so mad if I get a C”, to anything else fearful going on in my life. By putting those fears on paper, it was almost as if I was giving someone else the responsibility of the fear. It was like it just left my brain.

    Good luck! 🙂

  30. I had anxiety even before I knew what the word meant.
    I really like that you put your energy into positive outlets, because it’s good to be busy and it doesn’t have to cost anything! Thank you.

  31. I suffer from crippling anxiety as well. I feel like I go through phases through life where it’s worse than others. Last year it was so bad that I even had to be hospitalized and put on meds (trust me, I avoided taking meds like thd plague, but it dramatically affected my life) What I’ve learned is deep breathing, slow down your thoughts, such as trying not to get too ahead of yourself. Which happens a lot with anxiety. Also, for herbal remedies try Yogi Kava tea, and/or Bachs Rescue Remedy flower essence! It works wonders! It’s been a year and I now am living across the country on my own, working my dream job! And taking almost no meds now. So if I can do it, I promise you, anyone can! 🙂

  32. I really enjoy your blog, and I think we’d be friends IRL! I’m a big worrier, and started to have panic attacks last March. I’ve found 2 things that really help: the first one is a breathing exercise (I read it on Wikipedia, of all places!) where you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 2, out for 5, hold for 2. Simple, but it helps. The second one is a verse from the Bible that I memorized and repeat over and over in my mind when I am anxious – Joshua 1:9. It’s very meaningful to me and brings me great peace. Hope this helps

  33. Oh girl, I can relate. When it kicks in, I wish I could flip a switch and turn it off! I imagine that’s what a xany would do… but like you, I don’t want to pollute my bod with pharmaceuticals. So it wait it out, which is torture. Sigh… But it eventually passes. Something I noticed over the past couple of years: being hung over makes it worse. Esp after a night of vodka- the next day it’s horrible for the.entire.freaking.day. This has made me cut back on drinking so that’s a good thing! It’s that unbearable. On a positive note: I channel my anxiety into productivity! It goes like this: I can’t sit still so I’m gonna clean the whole house in an hour! And I like that. For those times, it can be helpful, but when I just want to be calm/relax/sleep and I can’t turn it off, it’s the worst!

  34. It’s really brave of you to write this post! I totally relate.

  35. A topic near to my heart thanks, please consider a follow up post. good day! I like your posts

  36. Just reading the post made me anxious because I hate that feeling! It hits and there is nothing you can do at 3am to find sleep. I love your blog 🙂

    • Hmmm that is very interesting. I often find myself responding with Busy! but really, that’s now “how I am” I need to be more mindful of how I respond to greetings because I find that sets a negative tone for sure! Thanks for the read 😀

  37. Absolutely loved reading this.

  38. I loved this. It is just a great reminder.

  39. I learned what one of my passions is when I had no idea what I wanted to do. I clawed my way along (and up) in this passion to play every day in what I love to do. Telecommunications is my thing – I cannot soak up enough of it. I’ve been fortunate to find work that I have been able to mold into my continued learning of this subject. Since then I’ve found more that I am passionate about and have managed to incorporate these to my work life.

    I am also very passionate about mentoring. I mentor 8 students in middle and high school to find their career paths and how to get there. I mentor new employees and interns in my job and am happiest helping others to be successful.

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