6 Sure-Fire Ways To Survive Second Semester

6 Sure-Fire Ways To Survive Second Semester

When Christmas break flies by and you're afraid of repeating last semester.
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I climbed in my car Sunday afternoon heading to face another semester on The Plains. In all honesty, I wasn’t ready. My break had been an emotional rollercoaster and I had fallen back in love with the routine of being at home with my siblings. Just like most freshmen, first semester was rough. I found myself bombarded with changes to every aspect of my life. People warn you that it’s a trying time, but nothing hits home like experiencing it yourself.

There was so much uncharted territory and when I try to describe it the word overwhelmed is all that comes to mind. But, thanks to a lot of coffee, a lot of love, and the good Lord’s grace, I made it. I survived, and this was such a feat for me that it was all I could manage to think of over break. I lived, I conquered and in the shuffle of the holidays and the rest period that follows I kind of forgot that I wasn’t necessarily done. I had to go back for round two and deal with school all over again. I was nowhere near mentally prepared to face another semester of school, but not going wasn’t an option. Which got me to Sunday, headed back to Auburn in a car filled with clothes and books but a spirit filled with panic.

Then my phone rang. A beautifully timed phone call to inform me that I had in fact gotten a job that I, on a whim, had applied for two weeks earlier. I was given the opportunity to write for "The Odyssey." The message that I was, in fact, going to be okay wouldn’t have been clearer if God himself had come down from the Heavens and plastered “you've got this” on a billboard. You couldn’t have brought me down from cloud nine if you tried. It was exactly what I needed to encourage myself to head into this semester fully determined to make the best of it. Writing has always been one of those things I was decent at, and I’ve always been the girl with a secret diary in her pillowcase (as I’ve aged I have tried to graduate to the word journal).

I am a frequent reader of the Odyssey and I had been toying with the idea of submitting an application for awhile. Over break, I found myself reading some of my previous writings and decided to go for it. I didn’t really expect to get a response so soon and I sure as heck didn’t think I’d get the go-ahead to start writing within the next week. It was truly one of those situations in life where God was pushing me onto His path.

It’s human nature, though, to forget about those glorious moments in which we are shown first-hand the beauty of our creator’s plan and quickly my courage faded. By Tuesday evening, I found myself in that same unprepared panic and I was so anxious about the first day of class, but he proved me wrong again. Wednesday made for a great day filled with seeing my sorority sisters, spending quality time with my roommate, and reuniting with my long lost love Chicken Salad Chick. I then got to thinking, which is something you’ll see I do a lot as you go on this writing journey with me, and I realized that surviving second semester might not be as hard as I imagined.

First semester may have knocked me down, it may have knocked you down too, but second semester is fresh and new and we’ve all acquired some pretty useful tools for this go around. So I decided that there couldn’t be a better way to start this writing gig off than to talk about those same tools. So here are some things I feel like are all vital to not only surviving, but owning, second semester.

1. First and foremost, keep your eyes open for those pats on the back from God.

I feel like he is constantly sending us signs to encourage us, let us know we’re on the right track, and sometimes to keep us off that bad road. The kicker is that if we’re not listening we won’t hear Him. If you’re questioning a situation, a decision, or feeling down, turn to him. He will surely provide you with better answers, comfort, and guidance than any. We just have to take the time to listen.

2. Let go of last semester.

This is a toughy because you want to always learn from your past, but my situation was one that just leaves me feeling overwhelmed all over again. Let it go and breathe in this new opportunity. You have a fresh start and there is nothing more glorious than getting to begin again. Constantly remind yourself to embrace it.

3. Don’t try to look too far into the future.

Now, I don’t mean to act impulsively and have no reserve for consequences or how your actions will affect your ability to get a job in ten years. But, don’t stress and think if you mess up one homework assignment you won’t get into medical school (I’ve totally done this three different times). You can’t enjoy the free week ahead of you if you’re worried about that jammed packed one coming up in March. Boil it down to a system of focusing on what is going on now and what you have to do next. This semester is a long haul, with tons of class time and not a lot of holidays or breaks. It’s going to be easy to get bogged down and stressed out over future events. Just be conscious of where your mind is and don’t miss what is right in front of you.

4. Manage your yes’s and your no’s.

This is such a hard concept for me to grasp and it is something that I vowed to work on in this next year and semester. Learn to say no. If you really don’t have time to babysit for that new family- turn the job down. If you have a test tomorrow and can’t watch four hours of Netflix with your BFF- say no. If taking on a leadership role in one of your clubs doesn’t work at the moment- don’t volunteer. Learn to responsibly and respectfully turn things down. On the other end of that spectrum, be a yes person as well. If your friends are going out on a Friday and you don’t want to go because you’re tired- do it anyway. If your girls are going shopping- get you some retail therapy sista.

This one is so important, go on the freaking lunch date. I don’t care if it’s the cute boy from history, a classmate or a sorority sister go on the lunch date. It doesn’t hurt and it’s not like losing that one hour will kill you. All of this is extremely hard for me, especially the lunch date situation if you couldn’t tell. I am way better at not doing than I am at stepping out of my routine. I find myself saying yes to my no’s and no to my yes’s and I have learned that it leaves my constantly unhappy. I’m always wishing I was doing something other than what I’m doing now. Don’t be that way, because it isn’t fun. Time is one of the most precious jewels we have, so work this semester to make sure you are doing what truly makes your heart happy and benefits you the most.

5. Be kind.

I have learned that the days I smile the most are the ones where I am offering that smile to others. Positivity breeds positivity. Work this semester to broaden your friend group and your connection pool. Learn the names of those sitting beside you in class and try to actively listen to their small talk. Smile at people on the concourse, and be kind to the cashiers on campus. Just spread your love and brightness, because to spread it you have to be it. You’ll be constantly reminding yourself to be happy.

6. Lastly, be inspired.

About an hour after the phone call I got on Sunday I came to my senses and thought “holy crap I have to publish an article in a week”, and I instantly started racking my brain for ideas. All week when my friends and family would ask how the writing was going I would reply with, “I’m waiting to be inspired” and I meant it. I was constantly searching for inspiration; for a moment, that was worthy of writing about.

And, let me tell you I had so many of those moments that I had to start a new journal just to document them all. I realized, though, is that there is a strong possibility that I didn’t have any more ‘lightbulb moments’ this week than on any other typical week, but this time, I was searching for it. So look for things to inspire and encourage that thoughtful side of yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, appreciate that sunrise or that Starbucks coffee. Let everything you experience actually be an experience. It makes a world of a difference.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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You had him in high school, but I get him for the rest of my life.
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High school seems like the best time of your life when you are in it. You think that all of your friends will be with you until the end, and that you will end up with whoever you are dating your senior year. For very few, that might just be the case. For all others, that is far from true.

You thought that you would marry your boyfriend and you thought that everything would work out how you had always imagined. I don't blame you though. He's great. You wanted everything with him, but you were just not right for him.

I wish I could say that I am sorry it didn't work out for you, but I can't. I can't because he is mine now, and I get to cherish him forever. You didn't do that right, and you were not meant to be together. You will find someone too, but I am happy that you were not the one for him.

Sometimes I have issues with jealousy, and I hate that you got all of the high school stuff with him. You got to go to games and support him. It kills me that I couldn't be there for him because I know I would have actually been there wholeheartedly. I would have done it out of love, not as a popularity appearance.

I hate that you got to go to all of the school dances with him. He got to see you all dressed up and probably told you how great you looked. I'm sure you did look great. Prom dresses were always fun to pick out and so colorful. It was exciting to match colors with your date. I am sure you had fun choosing his matching tux to your dress.

I find myself getting jealous, but then I stop. I am getting to match his tux with our wedding colors. I got to go dress shopping in a sea of white, and he doesn't get to know one detail about that dress yet. He will get to see me walk down the aisle and then every day forever. I get to love him forever.

I try to not get jealous of all of the things you got with him because it is all in the past. You had your time, and now I get the wedding. You got to dress up in high school, but I get to dress up for my wedding with him. He may have put a corsage on your wrist, but he will be putting the wedding ring on my finger.

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Even When You Don't Have It In You

For the struggling college student at the start of a new semester.

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The above picture represents a stage in my life that I thought I would never get through. I had just finished final exams and was terrified of the outcome of my last semester as a Junior. I had experienced so many mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks from a series of events and low places that I found myself in throughout the semester, so much that my mom had to stay with me during final exams. I needed encouragement, and I needed it bad.

Kind of like right now, and I'm sure that some of you might find yourself in the same place.

While the start of a new semester looks shiny and promising, there is always that point when reality begins to settle in, and you realize that responsibilities are resurfacing just as fast as they left at the onset of Christmas break.

You show up to the first day of classes, all of your professors throw a syllabus at you, as well as your final exam date, and you begin to feel your forehead break out in sweat. We've all been there, and that is precisely the place that I found myself at while sitting in my first ever 8 AM of my college career.

Not only do we attend classes, but nightly meetings as well, all while attempting to retain a social life and keep up with our mental health.

It's A LOT. I know it. I've been there.

There have been days when I wanted to simply throw in the towel, and quit school altogether.

I have been at the point when I couldn't find even a sliver of motivation to get me through the meetings, the extra credit seminars, work, or even to church.

The feeling of defeat is nothing new to me, but what I have learned is something that will forever be a constant even though my motivation level is not always.

The Lord doesn't love you because you do everything right, or you attend every meeting and aren't a second late... The Lord loves you because of you are His, and that will never change.

See, regardless of our level of perfection in a certain class or at a meeting, he is always constant, always.

Regardless of our inability to give ourselves creditor to take time to breathe, his loves you fully, with no prerequisites.

That is what had gotten me through the majority of my sleepless night when a responsibility or test kept me awake at night with anxious thoughts.

Regardless of our performance, or how good we look to the people of this Earth, our worth is found in God, and we must not let performance or standards of society fog up our sight of that.

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