Let's Talk: Breathe

By The Beacon | November 4, 2015 10:56am

by Joseph Rojo |


I have been lucky enough to serve in different leadership roles and different positions during my time here at UP. However, like many people, I took on way too much. My sophomore year I took on three leadership positions and one job all while being a student with 18 credits. I got trapped in the pride of busyness.

The pride of busyness is how we take pride in being busy, whether that’s complaining how busy we are to each other to see who has the most to do or thinking “Why are they so tired? I’m doing more than they are. They don’t deserve to be tired.” On college campuses, the pride of busyness is very real and has very real consequences.

With all that I was doing and involved with my sophomore year I was constantly working. I would either be working on school work, working on one of my leadership positions or I was working at my job. I never stopped, never took a break. I would be up till two in the morning and would get up at six or seven to either get ready for work or class. Sleeping four to five hours a night became the usual for me and it took its toll on my mind and body. Physically, I became dependent on caffeine. I drank six to 12 shots of espresso a day to just keep myself awake. Mentally, I couldn’t function. Any extra stress would cause me to have a breakdown and eventually I got to the point where the exhaustion and stress of the day would cause me to have a daily breakdown at two in the morning. I would then just go to sleep and start the cycle again.

I was always so busy that I missed out on the opportunities to just be present in my communities and to take time for myself to simply breathe. I was constantly running around and running errands that I was never able to really make meaningful connections with others. I was always being there for others, but I never was there with others. I was helping out others and serving others but I wasn’t taking any time to help myself or to let anyone help. I was always doing for others what I never did for myself.

I finished off the rest of the year. Now I’m in my junior year and this is still something I struggle with. I struggle to say no and struggle with the pride of busyness. There are times I still feel completely overwhelmed because I have taken on too much. I’m still learning to take care of myself and to know when to say no to different opportunities to be involved or different tasks to take on.

At first, saying yes to everything and being as involved or busy as we can be seems like a great way to find out what we are interested in and to learn about ourselves. However, when our lives become too cluttered with things to do we miss out on discovering the ultimate yes. We miss out on finding that task or purpose that fulfills us and motivates us because we are so busy saying yes to everything.

I still struggle with learning to take time for myself. I’m learning when to take a break and even though I struggle with forcing myself to take breaks and to take time for myself, I’m learning to enjoy those moments to breathe.


Joseph Rojo is a junior biology major and can be reached at rojo17@up.edu. Joseph is a member of Active Minds, a group on campus dedicated to educating our community about mental health and demonstrating that people are not alone in their mental health struggles.


Active Minds Podcast

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Mental Health Resources:

UP Health and Counseling Center: 503-943-7134

Multnomah Mental Health Crisis Line: 503-988-4888

Active Minds: activemindsup@gmail.com or facebook.com/activemindsatup