Op-Ed: Your Health is Everything

By Mckenzie Golden | | Contributing Writer

I have no doubt that you have been hearing your fair share of sniffling and hacking in class and around campus these past two weeks. Everyone’s least favorite time of year is upon us: the seasonal sickness is finally being passed around — but now with an added fear component with COVID in the mix. Alas, the vast majority of the cold symptoms we’ve all been seeing are just from your regular fall illness, but I wish to remind you of something you will most certainly neglect:

Your health is everything.

Making up missed work has got to be one of the most miserable and stress-inducing academic pressures on campus, and it’s often the thing that keeps us going to class even when we feel awful. There are many reasons to prioritize your health, and often these little colds are not super serious, but I wish to offer you a little story that I think is quite pertinent.

In 2017, right at the beginning of my freshman year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with a cancerous neuroendocrine tumor in her intestinal tract. This ultimately meant nights spent sleeping at family friends’ houses, many marching band performances where my parents were never there, and especially that aura that lingered all around my family– the aura of speculating how it was all going to end. These incidents strip you down to your barest human needs, like you’ve been knocked down a few pegs on Maslow’s hierarchy. It is unbearably painful, and yet it grants you a small gift of incredible clarity over all aspects of your life. Our lives were upended when my mom got sick. Nothing was more important. It made me realize that everyday I take for granted the level of wellness I need to operate and get done my thousands of silly little tasks, which all seemed quite menial in comparison to this journey my mom ventured on. She is celebrating her fourth year of remission this October.

There are people here on campus who love you equally as dearly. You are a person who works incredibly hard here on campus to juggle your classes, clubs, sport, appearances, and a whole slew of other things that keep you ridiculously busy. If your body is telling you that it isn’t feeling well, it isn’t like you didn’t earn a day to take it easy, because you absolutely did. Not taking care of yourself when you feel ill can prolong sickness and can also spread whatever you have to those around you. You have earned the right to take care of yourself and it’s incredibly selfless to help us all out and stay home. Your health is the basis for you to attend all of your extracurriculars and learning too. We truly do not understand the gift it is to have everything be in working order from the wee hours when you wake to the end of those all-too-familiar late, studious nights.

What I’ve been dancing around is that the sentiment of my mom and the sentiment of this autumn cold that’s running rampant through campus are not so different. We spend a lot of time wishing that we weren’t sick when we are, and it was the same with my mom in her bedridden days. We realize how limited we are when we’re sick, and all the things we wish we could do. It also helps us see how much we get done in a day, or a week, or a whole goddamn lifetime. So protect your health. Make sure you take care of yourself physically, and mentally, and do a thousand and one things when you’re feeling up to it. Your health is everything.

First-Year Mckenzie Golden is a Contributing Writer. Her email is mgolden@fandm.edu.

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