Living a simple life is VERY difficult.

Before I went to college, I had this glamorous picture in my head of what it would be like: I would get straight A’s, manage my time, work as many hours per week as possible, steadily climb my way in clubs and make friends while doing so.

Now, sitting here at the (almost) end of my sophomore year, I have a much more realistic picture.

College is difficult, no matter what school you choose to go to. Straight As are hard to come by. Your schedule also varies day to day, so there’s no way you can always properly manage time. There are just too many distractions, too much competition. But I strove for good grades, worked two jobs, tutored two students, and still attempted to have a bit of a social life by joining extracurriculars. Everything in life from here on out is hectic and stressful, and about a week ago, I took a long, hard look at myself.

Dark circles rimmed under my eyes, my hair was a fluffy, bushy mess. My skin was oily and dry, and cracks were starting to appear on my nails. I hadn’t done my laundry in about two weeks, so my clothes were more than a little wrinkled, if not a little smelly. If I’m being honest, I looked a bit like I’d just gotten attacked by birds and knocked over by pigs.

No— hey! I was the female version of Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown!

Needless to say, I was more than a little concerned. Knowing me and my mental health issues, I knew I should take care of myself, which is easier said than done.

I knew something had to give.

So that night, while in the middle of my stats homework, I set my pencil down and stretched.

And it felt good.

I used to be an athlete (I played softball for twelve years), and usually, stretching my muscles was something I did whenever I felt stressed. But after I quit, that fell to the wayside.

A lot of things fell to the wayside after I quit. But as I stretched, I felt something I hadn’t in a really long time: relaxed.

That night, I took a hot shower and actually used a deep-cleaning conditioner for my damaged hair. When I curled up in bed, my homework half done, I took the time to fluff my pillows and straighten my blankets.

It’s the little things that really make a difference.

Listen: life is busy. It is hard. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it.

Complicated as life may be, I encourage you to take some time for yourself. In doing so, it will help you figure out what is excessive, and what is direly needed in your life. If it impedes your growth as a person in any way, or it causes you harm, you need to cut it out of your life. If it helps define you as a person and makes you better, keep it.

There is no need to make life harder than it is.

You’ll get a lot farther if you live simply. I promise you that.