You Are Worth More Than A Letter Grade

Putting Your Mental Health Over Academics And Other So Called 'Necessities' Should Be A Priority

You are worth more than a letter grade.

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Whether you're a freshman or a senior, a lot of people have a hard time adjusting to college . Winter and summer breaks are longer than you think, and going back to school with a new schedule, new routine, new goals, new classes, new/existing job, etc can be overwhelming.

It's hard to find time to just relax when you feel like you could be doing something more productive, but let me tell you that the time you have with yourself is crucial to be successful in college.

It's understandable that you want a job in college. You're broke. I'm broke. We're all broke. But when you are constantly struggling to be happy with yourself, and your life, you might just need to put that job on hold.

My first semester in college, I was so up and down with myself, and sometimes I feel that way still. I was looking for jobs every chance I could because I was struggling to pay off my monthly loan payments. Fortunately, I was able to get by last semester, but I was not putting myself first. I was sick all the time, lazy, unmotivated, and hated myself. However, in this next semester, part of me knew I needed a job to make sure my bank account was comfortable enough for me to last these next fifteen weeks.

But I recognized how unstable I was with myself last semester and knew I never wanted to feel like that again. And I knew that I wasn't mentally ready to handle something else in my schedule that would take time away from me. So, I designed my schedule to where I can fit in time for myself to go to the gym, listen to music, take care of myself, and relax. I'm not perfect, but I'm a lot happier than I used to be with myself.

I recommend having a stable job during the winter and summer breaks so you can save up for anything that you may need or want to do. Most universities provide you with a lot, so you won't need to pay for much. But if you're like me, you might just need to save some money for any outside necessities.

Please though, you need to be in a good place before you add in extracurriculars that are going to take time away from yourself.

Another big stresser that is inevitable is academics. We are all nervous about getting good grades and want to make the dean's list. Who doesn't? It's hard to really take care of yourself when you have so much on your plate, believe me, I know.

It sucks that it's life and we all have to learn to be adults. But when you put yourself first a little more than everything else, you're going to be great and better at anything thrown at you. Why? Because your crappy job will pass. Your grades will pass (that doesn't mean to not make them a priority), but make yourself a little bit more of a priority than your grades.

You have to live with yourself, and at the end of the day you want to feel good. If you're doing good, everything else will be. You'll see things more positively.

Now, this doesn't mean to go to the gym five times a day, seven days a week and not eat. It doesn't mean to be so consumed with yourself that you critique everything you do. If you don't have time to go to the gym or exercise, counter it with eating healthy and balanced. Do other things that make you happy, sit back, relax, and feel good. Feel better.

You don't have to feel great all the time. You're not going to so don't expect it. It could be close, but never perfect. You want to be balanced because those bad days, moods, and feelings allow you to really think about why you're feeling that way, and what the logic behind it is.

Trust me on this, you will feel a lot better, and look at things more positively when you start taking care and putting yourself first. Over everything. You will have a better connection with your body and eventually learn what it needs.

You are a priority, so make it happen.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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