On Sunday nights, my friends and I gather in one of our rooms for what has become a weekly tradition: Rose, Bud, Thorn. I learned this tradition from fellow dorm-mates last year: if you're not familiar (as I wasn't), you gather in a circle, and take turns going around sharing a rose (something great that's recently happened/been happening in your life), a bud (something that you're looking forward to happening soon), and a thorn (something unfortunate that's recently happened or that you've been going through). In fact, we tend to reverse this order: starting with a thorn, and following with either a rose or a bud, as they're both happier topics of conversation.
If you would have told me, even as recently as a year ago, that I would spend about an hour of my Sunday nights -- typically reserved for the procrastinator in me, they did and (still do) involve a mélange of frantic trips to and from the laundry room and endless to-do lists -- I'd have laughed in your face. My Sundays were primarily reserved for me, myself, and I. But as a somewhat autonomic response to the threat of catching the infamous "Sophomore Slump," I have been doing more of what I believe is good for me: spending time focused on engaging with the people that matter most to me.
I am naturally a social person, but when faced with adversity -- as many of us can probably admit -- I shy away from talking about it with others. It's easier to keep your head down and focus on the work in front of you when life gets crazy busy. In reality, however, talking to friends and family -- about what is difficult for you, about what makes you the happiest, and what gives you hope -- brings you closer to them, and in turn, makes it easier to get through that week full of midterms, face that confrontation you've been avoiding, or come to terms with something difficult.
I've also found that when forced to reflect and, as simple as it sounds, pick out a highlight and low point of my recent week, as well as consider what I eagerly anticipate in the week to come, I learn something about myself. I learn that going forward, I should really take the time to be in the moment, because I never know when the best one is about to happen, and by adopting this mindset, I view the same moments as richer, more fulfilling experiences. When I'm blindsided by something, having to pinpoint what scares or upsets me the most about it actually makes it less scary or upsetting, even more so when I hear from friends that they're dealing with something similar; listening begets a feeling of connectedness and strength.
These conversations I'm striving to have more of, more often, are going to stick with me a lot longer than my grades will. While we all certainly have to prioritize certain parts of our lives -- academic standing, social well-being, mental or physical health, etc. -- over others at certain points, this year has thus far affirmed to me that just because we are at college to learn does not mean it is all we are here for, or that we can only do so inside of a classroom. In fact, in my opinion, maintaining strong relationships and excelling in other areas, such as an academic or professional career, are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite, I think the more content we are with our lives and the people in them, the more motivated and confident we feel pursuing other goals and tackling what life throws at us on a day-to-day basis.
My point is, it can feel like a no-brainer, when faced with several chapters of reading and the opportunity to chat over dinner with a friend, which one is the "smarter" option. But if there's someone you haven't really talked to in a few days, or weeks, even, reach out and see how they are. It's worth it, I promise. Speaking to the residential college experience, we only have a short window of our lives in which we are surrounded by (or at least in fairly close proximity to) so many people in the same boat as us: just as confused, fun-loving, and wide-eyed, and willing to lend an ear, share a laugh or give a hug. Sometimes, we just need a little prompt or reminder.