Conversations in the Bathroom: On Finding Your Inner Strength

Whether you’re stressing about revision and your exams or struggling to get your dissertation on the right track, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget to care of the most important person – yourself! Today we’re sharing a beautiful poem by our blogger, Jenny Mak, to remind you how strong you are, and that it’s fine to pause, and take a breath…

Term 3 can be particularly busy time, with many students preparing for their exams, finishing essays or working on their dissertations. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and let stress impede your progress. If you find yourself struggling with procrastination, stress and anxiety and lacking motivation, Wellbeing Support team run a range of workshops to give you strategies to tackle these matters. Additionally, it helps to find time for selfcare and regular breaks.

The poem we are sharing today on the Study Blog was written by Jenny Mak earlier this, to celebrate University Mental Health Day. We feel it captures well the challenges of being a student, and we hope it will inspire you to find the motivation and strength needed for your studies.

Conversations in the Bathroom

By Jenny Mak

I’ve always found the bathroom to be a comforting place.

It’s quiet, the sound of water flowing is soothing to my ears, the white tiles are surprisingly clean

and offer a smooth, cool surface where I can lean my forehead on

for when I’m thinking too much

for when it all gets too overwhelming.

You see, there’s two of me.

There’s the me who stands before you now – bright, calm, never too worried if you throw me a question I can’t answer at the moment.

Because I know none of us are perfect

and that taking one… or two… or three seconds extra to formulate an answer

doesn’t equate to me not having a brain.

This is the me who comes out of the bathroom, hair bouncing, skin fresh, eyes sparkling like the glass of the Oculus, ready to start another day at uni.

This is the me who holds faith in herself … who knows her value.

But there is another me.

This is the me who flinches inwardly at every comment that might sound like a criticism

Who reads shadow meanings behind every line thrown at her – by her PhD supervisor, by her peers, by a student she’s teaching, by a professor at a conference…

Words can feel cold, painful, and harsh –

Like a bucket of icy water dumped over your bare skin.

On those days, I retreat

Into pools of essential oil-infused bathwater

Soaking in their reassuring warmth

Breathing in lavender, jasmine, lemongrass, from a concoction called ‘Inner Strength’

Nurturing myself with nature.

My essential oil of ‘Inner Strength’ is my cure of choice

But yours might be drinking your milk tea or a bottle of refreshing water, eating your biscuits, snuggling with your teddies, exercising at the Sports Centre, watching a musical at the Arts Centre, listening to music that takes you on that starship far away…

On those days

Take a deep breath

And remember that, hey,

it’s one day out of many days.

And yes, sometimes it’s one too many days

For that ‘Inner Strength’ essential oil to work.

Or for those milk tea and biscuits to make you feel that you can face tomorrow

With a smile on your face.

But a breath can be a break.

And nobody said we couldn’t take a break

Or many breaks.

To be strong again, to be remade anew.

You are strong.

We are strong.

That strength is within you.

Keep going.

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