One of the aspects of college that excited me the most was the idea of a free schedule. In high school, my school day started at 7 AM when I stumbled late into period 0 Spanish and class ended at 1:50 PM when I was given a slight reprieve before starting track or cross country practice at 3 PM, then I got home at 6 PM to scarf down some food, did homework for hours and other times had extracurricular activities such as volunteer time and club dinners, then dropped into bed at 12 AM or later, and peeled my eyes open at 6:30 AM to begin again. I lost a sense of purpose in what I was doing — the volunteer hours, the additional activities, the studying were all done to beef up that common app. The things I thoroughly enjoyed — writing, reading, running, helping others — were lost under the load of responsibility and in the drudge of monotony. I finally received some free time when in the painfully cold last leg of winter the responsibilities, the physical toll of strenuous track training in the snow, and the late nights culminated in a nasty case of mono. At this point, I had been long accepted into college, and long ago had lost a lot of motivation to succeed. Senior year was supposed to be a time spent with friends, a more relaxed school schedule, and to reflect on your high school experience while looking forward to the next chapter, but I just felt like it was time robbed.

So of course, through the painfully long winter of 2018 I held onto the hope that I would have a freer schedule in college to do things out of simple desire rather than obligation. While I knew college was notorious for being a stage of late nights and long study hours, I still preferred it to my current stage.

Come first semester, I did have more free time … free time unwisely spent. I had a strong case of FOMO typical of those in a new chapter where making connections and establishing yourself is so important. Besides the normal struggle of adjusting to a new routine after the long languid days of the summer where my only responsibility was scooping rice and beans into Chipotle bowls, there was the additional time-consuming social interactions. I was so focused on making new friends and developing relationships, joining new clubs and attending events, that I pushed my schoolwork and independent freelance projects aside. This didn't hit me hard until I found myself at 18th Avenue library at 2 AM only halfway through my work for the next day with an 8 AM in six hours.

This all put a strain on my health of course, and on my long distance relationship. It took the majority of the semester to get back on track, and luckily since it was my first my course load wasn't too heavy to start with. Now in the second semester, I have learned to prioritize things like sleep and study, to say "no" to social events if I don't have to go (especially if they begin in the late evening), and to focus on what's really important. I haven't fallen into the rut of senior year or experienced the unique stress of my first autumn semester, and I don't plan to. I have never been great at time management, but I'm working on it, a little bit at a time.