We seniors get really sentimental throughout our last year, especially as we look back on everything we have accomplished at school, the friends we’ve made, the mistakes we’ve made and the experiences that we would give anything to relive. From this, I do not think college students get enough credit for everything they have to balance in their lives and the constant pressure that is always there to keep doing more.
I actually took this year, with my parents’ not-so-sly prodding, to really just enjoy being a student. For so long I would overcommit myself to every internship, part-time job, clubs, classes, and having fun that I frequently drove myself crazy. Now that I have kind of relaxed, and have only kept the activities that I absolutely need, I feel I can give sound advice to younger students on how to balance it all.
Take, for example, last semester. I had just come back from studying abroad, where the academic rigor was nowhere near Carolina’s, and decided to take a 15-hour course load, have an internship in Raleigh, work part-time at the Carolina Union, and continue in my four various clubs. The amount of stress I was under spring semester, junior year was ridiculous. On average, I was getting maybe four hours of sleep a night. I was not hanging out with my friends as much as I would have liked or doing anything just for fun. Looking back on it, I would most definitely tell myself to ease-up and only choose the most important activities. Everything eventually works out in the end. But we, as Carolina students, are over-achievers. We are stubborn. We are going to push ourselves to our absolute limit, and worry about the consequences later. What’s the saying? Choose two out of three options – school, social life, or sleep. Sleep was definitely the one left out of the equation for me.
Thus, I do not want to give anyone the advice to just stop doing so much. Multiple people told that to me, and I would nod and pretend to agree, while mentally I would say, “I just can’t.” Well, if you can’t stop doing everything under the sun, I have some recommendations.
First, do set aside time for your mental health. It is so incredibly important. I recharge, or get my energy, from being by myself and watching Netflix or trying a new restaurant with my close friends. Set aside time to do the things your love – I would even write it in my planner. I would plan time around it, no matter how much homework I had, because I knew how much better I felt afterwards. This could even mean that you make sure that you are absolutely passionate about every single one of your extracurricular activities. I found that last semester I was involved in clubs just because my friends were in them or because I joined them freshman year and could not gather up the nerve to quit. Why? By default, I was not putting my all into it because I really didn’t love it. It felt like a job to me, when it should have felt like an escape. There are so many things we absolutely must do – classes, jobs, internships – but all that extra stuff? Make sure it’s worth it. Which goes into my next point…
Find a hobby that is healthy. I sound like my father now, who is an extreme health-nut, but it is crazy what exercise can do for your mental stability. I have been dancing my entire life, and I am involved in several dance groups on campus. Thus, having several hours throughout the week devoted to dancing, really boosted my energy levels and took my mind off of everything else going on in my life. In that hour, I don’t have a test, or relationship issues, or my internship to worry about. I only have the music, as corny as that sounds. Find the kind of exercise that you enjoy, and this means don’t force yourself to run if it is absolutely horrible to you. I hate running. I honestly hate the gym. So, my dad told me to find a kind of exercise that I would not dread every day. I found mine; take the time to find yours.
Lastly, have patience with yourself first. This is probably the best piece of advice I have gotten in college because it relates to so many different things. We are so incredibly hard on ourselves as human beings. We have to show the world that we have it together all the time – that nothing worries us, or gives us stress and that we can handle it all. We are all lying to each other. Every day we are working through something, and we will constantly make mistakes. When we do, we have to stand-up and brush ourselves off and keep moving. When we do poorly on that test or we respond to an email from our boss in a poor manner, we have to recognize it and make a promise to do better next time. The truth is that maybe we will make that mistake again and again, but eventually we will get it. I promise. Have patience with yourself over anything. You really are trying, and these mistakes will only make you that much stronger in the future.
So, can you have it all? I am still trying to figure that out myself. But as a senior, I know now how much I have grown during my four years at Carolina and I want everyone to know that balancing everything is probably the toughest part. If anything, remember to take care of yourself!
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ’16
Journalism and Mass Communication | Public Relations
Second Major: Political Science
Public Affairs Intern | APCO Worldwide
Career Peer | University Career Services