I've always felt as though the prospect for starting a new school year is almost even more refreshing, new and exciting than the beginning of the actual New Year, and my junior year of college will be no exception to this. I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience from the start of my freshman year up until now, the end of my sophomore year. So much has changed, from my major to my hair color and the implications for change are always pretty huge.
Starting off my freshman year was a doozy. I couldn't have been more wrong concerning my expectations for what I believed college life would be like. I had no idea how difficult it would be for me, an introvert, to fully immerse myself in the college experience.
Upon meeting my roommate as well as several other peers, going to the New Student Orientation and attending several open houses before officially moving onto the University of Dayton's campus, I quickly realized that this wouldn't be all too easy. Meeting new people was exhausting.
I soon realized that I didn't desire to live out the stereotypes typically associated with college life. I didn't want to go to nearly as many parties as I had thought I wanted to go to. I wasn't prepared to spend my entire life studying in the library. I was so burnt out and exhausted from my senior year of high school to bother joining or participating in any clubs or activities.
So freshman year, I made the mistake of not doing any of it. I didn't join any clubs or executive boards. I didn't join any service programs. I didn't volunteer and I certainly didn't have any internships. All I had were my classes and my on-campus job in the dining hall, plus a few friends here and there. Needless to say, by the end of my freshman year, I was beginning to have some regrets.
Sophomore year, I did a 180 and decided to do ALL of the things I didn't get to during my freshman year. I picked up a better on-campus job as an assistant teacher. I joined two organizations and eventually, their executive boards. Of course, I began writing articles for the Odyssey.
I also volunteered at a local elementary school and I got an internship during my second semester. I made new friends and went to a party here and there. To sum up, I did everything I promised myself I would do during freshman year but didn't get to do.
So what's the problem? Well, the problem is, I am exhausted. I'm craving coffee and a nap as I type these words. I haven't been taking care of myself. I've completely neglected any sort of spiritual life I had had for myself and of course I haven't been eating well or staying active.
While I was so concerned with the way my external life had looked during this semester, I didn't worry about the internal. I was so concerned that I hadn't done anything worthwhile during freshman year that I moved to the other extreme and did everything that I could. A word of advice, to myself as well as to others? Neither extreme is good.
So what do I plan to do my junior year? Well, I hope to find balance, a kind of temperance and harmony between the things I enjoy doing and the things I know I need to do to take care of myself. I plan on making my body and my mind more of a priority.
I plan on reflecting on the self-care I need to give myself in order to thrive. I hope to say "no" more often. I hope to limit the obligations that I give to myself to a number I can actually handle without neglecting my health.
So junior year, here we go. Here's to health and happiness and spirituality. Here's to saying "no" and taking care of myself. Here's to good grades, but also to plenty of sleep. Here's to new friends and new experiences. Junior year, I can't wait to see what's in store for us.