How to succeed without sacrificing your well-being: Advice based on one woman’s 21 years

  1. Make sure your work is something you enjoy.

You may not love every single class, assignment, or task in school or at work. But for the most part you should enjoy, be interested in, and/or be passionate about what you are doing. What’s the point in sticking with a major or job that you dread? I started college as a biology major. While I do enjoy some of the classes in the major, I also found that I really love sociology. So I made the switch and just took the extra classes I needed for my graduate school program, which is psychiatric nursing. Admittedly, it took me a while to commit to the switch and I got a lot of push back from my parents but I’m glad I did it.

  1. Don’t be afraid to branch out.

I say get involved with anything you find yourself drawn to, even if doesn’t directly coincide with your main career goals. Heck, it may even lead you to change career paths. It can be scary to try something that you don’t know for sure you will be successful at. The times that I have committed to doing something I was scared to do have been the most rewarding.

I was feeling discouraged by the way society treats women and I felt a need to do something to help. I decided to become a hospital advocate for sexual assault survivors. I was so nervous when I was called into the hospital for the first time that I was shaking. I didn’t know how I would handle helping the survivors and I was afraid to mess it up. I asked for help when I needed it and I still continue to improve and learn. The experience has been so rewarding for me and has given me insight on what I want to do in the future. Go ahead and take the risk, whatever it may be.

  1. You really can be whoever you want to be.

Maybe this is obvious for others but for me it was a realization that kind of blew my mind. Although I still consider myself an introvert, I used to be painfully shy. At some point I just decided I was going to say whatever was on my mind. I decided to try writing for a magazine even though I really don’t have much writing experience. I felt like going to a fancy restaurant and eating by myself one day when I was alone in a new city for work, so I did. I got some weird looks that normally would have bothered me but instead I just found it funny. Maybe this is more so becoming comfortable and confident in who you are. But just know it is incredibly freeing to decide to be whatever kind of person you want to be, unapologetically.

  1. Don’t let a failure, criticism, judgment or “No” stop you.

There will be many roadblocks and sometimes it seems like there’s no way around it, but trust me there is. Sometimes a failure leads you to better things anyways so don’t sulk in it for too long. Instead look for new avenues to take. Also there will also be people who doubt you or question what you are doing. Just keep going and prove them wrong. It would be so unfortunate to let someone else guide your future.

I had a TA who was be incredibly rude only towards me in an anatomy lab. He would make fun of my pronunciation, clearly ignore me, and say good job to someone else in the group if I answered something correctly. My group members and I constantly wondered why he had a problem with me. I was advised by peers to “just keep my mouth shut.” I wasn’t going to let this guy get in the way of my learning, so I confronted him about it and he cut it out.

  1. Don’t neglect yourself.

To function at your best and do all the amazing things you want to do, you need to take care of yourself. This means giving yourself a break. School and work are important but so is having fun in life. Make time in your schedule to be with friends and family. Don’t put up with relationships that you know deep down are bad for you. I promise you don’t need anyone like that in your life. Find some physical activity you like and do it to make you feel energized, rather than doing it as a chore or with the goal of changing your body. Eat foods that you enjoy but also make you feel good. And sometimes what makes you feel good is a bowl of ice cream or Chinese take-out.

I had one semester where I had a heavy course load and I decided I was just going to study all weekend and never spend time with my friends. Needless to say I was a ball of stress 24/7 and I didn’t do so hot that semester. I ended up retaking some of the courses from that semester but this time I managed my time better. I made sure I was getting more sleep, utilized office hours, and most importantly starting making time to spend with my friends or to see my family on the weekends. I ended up doing much better in my classes by taking care of myself.

This is just what I’ve learned through my mistakes and experiences. I think it is necessary to learn some of these things on your own. You may find your own rules for success so I encourage you to take this advice however you see fit.

-Elizabeth Passino

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