Opinion | Self-care is my summer internship

Emma Reith, art director

I have no clue how to relax. I’ve been working on it for a while now, but I am nowhere near where I want to be. When I try to relax, I just fall asleep. But even then, I grind my teeth.

I’m highly involved on campus. I am a chronic “joiner,” seeing every new club flier and thinking to myself, “Hmm, maybe I should go to that meeting.” My sister thinks I’m legitimately going to take over the world. She can’t believe I’m so involved on campus; but at Chapman, I’m pretty average.

Though I love Chapman and am grateful for the experiences I’ve had in my three years here, the school is, unfortunately, a bubble of competitive leadership. If you’re not interning in Los Angeles, the president of two clubs and getting all A’s, you’re hardly involved. It’s really easy to stay in that bubble during the school year, stacking your schedule up high and complaining about just how busy, under-slept and over-caffeinated you are.

With this mindset, when it was time to apply for summer internships, I felt obliged to apply to as many positions as possible. I was shooting for Fortune 500 companies and 40-hour work weeks. But my motivation to achieve an unattainable status of success faded. When questioning my hesitance to apply to internships, I realized I didn’t want to make four different resumes for marketing, creative marketing, public relations and human resources. I wanted to use that time to relax. And actually relax; not just watch TV for six hours straight or go out with my friends.

My lack of relaxation comes from my dislike of laziness. That abhorrence has manifested into several health issues. Though my mental health is the best it’s ever been, my body is now feeling the repercussions. Lately I’ve awoken to a pounding heart and dizziness. My shoulders, neck and jaw are riddled with knots, some the size of a fist.

By all accounts, I’m a stress case. I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office with ailments that exhaust me and through MRIs and CT scans. My body and mind are both begging me to take a break.

So, this summer, my version of productivity will be learning to relax and take care of myself. Part of this is reframing self-care as a concept: it’s no longer something that I see as self-indulgent or inefficient. It’s a lesson I’ll take with me into my upcoming adult life and a skill that will ground me when I likely dip back into my workaholic tendencies during senior year.

For the first time, I am forcing myself to give up the expectations of success and achievement that I consistently place on myself. This is my last chance to live with my parents (at least, the last time when it’s socially acceptable) while doing nothing inherently constructive all day.

Between my junior year and senior year of college, I have a rare opportunity to explore my youth rather than my efficiency or workplace skills. I can be more than someone who is defined by my involvements and friends. So this summer, forget about internships. I’m going to take this time for myself.