November is a difficult time of year for college students. With finals season around the corner, academic pressures increase as we scramble to bring our grades up in the last few weeks of the semester. Many of us are exhausted, either from fighting illness or from too many late nights spent studying in the library. As our schedules fill up with schoolwork and extracurricular involvement, our social lives take a dip and we become more and more busy. Moreover, daylight savings and the fall weather make our environment cold and dark.
It's easy to succumb to all these pressures and feel disheartened. I've had a rough couple of days in which it seemed that I was drowning under everything I had to balance and I lost sight of the good in my circumstances. I stopped thinking positively about my college experience, and instead I started counting everything that went wrong. Yet during such a challenging time of year, it's important that we dwell instead on everything that is going right. There are so many things to be grateful for in November, in spite of the stress and business we feel. During such a dark season, we can instead focus on all the light in our lives.
Y'all, having cold weather in Atlanta, Georgia should be celebrated. We're known for having intense hot weather: in fact, on the plane flight to Emory, the woman sitting next to me told me that I would be wearing my shorts until Christmas. November marks the time that the South catches up to the rest of the world by finally embracing the fall season. Most importantly, it is officially cold enough to wear all the cute clothes in your closet. Break out the cardigans, flannel and blanket scarves!
Warm and cozy fall activities
Every new season comes with fun things to do as a college student. We may lament the loss of summer weather because we no longer study on the quad, run in Lullwater or go out for ice cream with friends. Colder temperatures, however, prompt us to stay warm indoors, make hot cider and watch movies with friends. Some of my favorite fall activities are making fall lattes and teas and curling up with a good novel, and I'm so excited to start doing these as November continues its course.
The occasional warm, sunny day
We've got to admit that the fall season isn't always as picturesque as it appears to be on Gilmore Girls. Students at Emory have to prepare for anything for fall, from temperature dropping from seventy to forty overnight, to days of torrential rain at a time. But among the rainy, cold and dreary days, there are still a handful of seventy-degree days with clear, blue skies. Leaving the summer season prompts us to be even more grateful for these days because they are so few and far between.
Thanksgiving break is a few short weeks away
It is such a blessing to have a long weekend off during a busy semester. Many of us will be able to go home and see our families after months of being away, stuff our faces with homemade food that far exceeds our cafeteria options, and spend some intentional time relaxing and recharging. At the very least, Thanksgiving break is three days where we get to sleep and relax instead of fighting to stay awake during lectures.
The holiday season is on the horizon!
For those who don't get excited by stuffing, football games and awkward family conversation at the dinner table: this time of year is just one long celebration. For example, it is just under 50 days until Christmas, and playing Christmas music is officially allowed the day after Thanksgiving (unless you're like me, and want to blast Mariah Carey all year round). We get to look forward to free food, fun events, and lots of cheer to go around even during finals season. And best of all: we get to the stress and busyness of campus for a few weeks for winter break.
The end of the semester is approaching
Although life tends to get so much busier this time of year, we can be grateful that it will be resolved in a month and a half. Classes end in about a month, and then we have a week or two of finals and then we're home-free. All of the classes that we are struggling in or do not like will soon turn into stories, rather than the realities of our day-to-day lives.
Looking at how far you've come
November can be sobering for a lot of college students because we start to regret all we haven't done this semester. We believe that they could have performed better in our classes, spent more time with friendships or maintained more positive mental health. While it can be frustrating to not have achieved as much as we wanted to, this time of year is important to reflect on how much we have achieved. Think about it: you survived the better part of a challenging college semester. It certainly had its lows, but it also had its highs. Give yourself grace and remember that you have done so much more this semester than you think you have.
I hope that this list inspires you to count your blessings and realize that there is much to be grateful for, even during overwhelming circumstances. This time of year is tough - but it's important to remember that you have gone through tough times before, and you have overcome them. November can be challenging but, in the end, it is just one month. Ultimately, every difficult time that you face is simply a season that you will develop the strength to overcome.