As I’ve fumbled my way through my first semester in college, I’ve come to learn the value of true happiness. After leaving the blissful life I led in high school, I came to find myself in a completely different environment with solely myself to rely on. Don’t get me wrong, this independence has helped me grow in immeasurable ways, however I can’t help but notice that somewhere in the rush of my freshman year I forgot to focus on happiness.
Now before you start to think this is getting deep, it isn’t. Although some students do struggle at the beginning of their college career due to the new social and academic climate, I was simply lucky enough to avert those struggles. Instead, my first few weeks of college resembled that of a summer camp. Every night I’d go out into the wee hours of the morning, keeping myself overwhelmingly busy, only to wake up at 7 a.m. the next day and see what my new daily adventures would hold.
Although this was fun for a while, I eventually found that leading such a crazy life is unsustainable. There’s a reason why summer camp doesn’t last forever, and that’s because the incredible rush and excitement of a new environment can cause you to completely lose focus. This is what I realized come fall break, when I hit a wall and realized that I hadn’t really accomplished much in my first month of school. I’d made dozens of friends, most of whom I couldn’t remember the names of, and made a point of attending all of my classes as if it was a banal task. Despite going through the motions of what college should look like, I wasn’t fulfilled.
Since I felt like my first month of school had gone by in a heartbeat, I didn’t get the opportunity to truly enjoy the exciting future I have laid out for me. So, what does one do when they feel like life is passing them by (I know, pretty dramatic for an eighteen year old to say)? I’ve come to find a few tips of my own that work:
1. Make a list of funny things you see/hear. Although I haven’t started this one yet, you can thank my friends for turning me onto the idea. As you begin to accumulate a list of funny experiences you have throughout the day, you’ll have something to refer to when you’re feeling down (or just need a good laugh).
2. Keep a journal. Speaking of writing things down, it is incredibly beneficial to keep a journal. Specifically for college students, it’s hard to navigate your feelings when there is so much going on around you. By writing down what you’re feeling and thinking, you’ll have the opportunity to work out your own problems before they become more of an issue.
3. Wake up earlier. Disclaimer: I am not, and will never be a morning person. If I had it my way, I would sleep until noon everyday and have #noragrets. However, I have obligations to get to my morning classes every day. Allow yourself at least an hour in the morning to get ready for the day. Whether you spend that hour showering, drinking coffee, or moving at a snail’s pace to get ready is up to you. By doing this, however, you’ll be able to have a positive beginning to every single day.
4. Take charge of avoidable stress. Sadly, stress is nearly unavoidable in one’s life. However, the small stresses that come from making mistakes in life are certainly avoidable. Long story short, get enough sleep and take care of yourself. This is your life, so take control of it and avoid any complications that may be coming your way.
5. Set your goals and find feasible ways to reach them. Sure, we all enter college with the objective to graduate. Majors, minors, and interests may change along the way, however it’s what you do each and every day in school that will help shape your future. Whether your goals are short or long term, start thinking about them and how you can start pursuing them today.