Deadlines are piling up. Our planner pages are becoming littered with events and appointments, and our schedules are filling up until there are no blank spaces left. We wear bags under our eyes like trophies, basking in the strange glory we create with lack of self-care. We are weary, unfocused and in need of a good nap. And it's only the second week of the semester.
It's easy to see why we're exhausted. These college years are, arguably, some of the most demanding of our lives. We complete immeasurable amounts schoolwork for a handful of challenging courses, all in the hopes to do the best that we can. We attend club meetings, apply for leadership positions and organize events. We connect with new friends, maintain old friendships, and experience severe FOMO every time our crazy schedule stops us from going to fun events. We're chasing after so many responsibilities, it's no wonder we feel dizzy. It's no wonder that we feel like we will never stop running this crazy race we call college life.
I'm not exempt from this exhaustion. Even though I've only been here for a few weeks, I already feel like I've been running for years. Over the course of this semester, I've realized that what they say about the sophomore slump is absolutely true. My classes are harder. My responsibilities have multiplied. And I somehow have a billion and one things more to do than last September. Yet, the more I've thought about it, the more I realized that the solution to my exhaustion isn't filling my schedule with event after event.
The solution is recharging.
Maddening, isn't it? How can we take time to recharge, when we don't have enough time to begin with? But despite seeming counterintuitive, taking time for ourselves is crucial. Think about it: in order to be the best that we can be, we have to take care of ourselves the best that we can. That means prioritizing time for ourselves, even in light of crazy amounts of assignments and responsibilities. That means realizing that self-care comes before schoolwork, and that getting a good amount of rest is more important than making that perfect essay. All in all, that means finding activities that renew our bodies, our minds and our strength.
I know that I myself have a lot to work on. I'd rather talk with my friends than get some much-needed sleep, or spend hours in the library without taking a break outside. But I know that I also notice a difference when I take time to recharge. Even when I set aside fifteen minutes of time for myself, I feel much more content, peaceful and prepared for the day. Not only do I myself feel better, but I am better able to serve those around me. I am more patient, more empathetic and more considerate towards those around me – all simply because I am pouring into others' lives from a full cup rather than an empty one.
The facts are, college life is stressful, and its break-neck speed is only going to increase from here. We can let it wear us down and burn us out. Or we can take it head-on through living a balanced lifestyle of work and recharging. I urge you all to do what you need to do to give time for yourself independent of schoolwork. Read a good novel. Listen to good music. Take a walk in the park. Eat a good dinner. Go to sleep earlier. Heck, even pet a dog or two. When you put yourself first and give yourself time to rest, it'll feel a lot easier to run this race.
Friends, we are going to shine this semester. But bulbs who shine all the time eventually burnout. Be kind to yourself and switch the off-switch for a few minutes. Be kind to yourself, so you can shine all the brighter.