Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Getting back into the zone after break presents challenges




Getting back into the swing of things after a nice, long (maybe even too long?) break can be somewhat of a pain. You get used to being lazy when you’re at home for so long. There is the freedom of never needing to actually be anywhere at a certain time. When the option of prolonged lying in bed all day becomes viable, the feeling is addictive. So once we’re back, it’s not easy to realize that you have to wake up in seven…six…dammit Facebook, now five…hours and walk across campus in nine degree weather to sit in a desk chair for an hour and fifteen minutes before the sun is really out.

But at the same time, getting back into a routine can be liberating. Something that seems so binding and restricting, can actually provide a sense of comfort and freedom. Because now you’re in a place where your free time, now limited, becomes more precious and you begin to appreciate your ability to both organize and apply yourself. And you begin to see yourself in a fresh, positive light. Opening that new notebook, writing the date neatly on the top of that first page…a new semester is like a new beginning, and you have the opportunity to decide who you’re going to be this term.

The problem I have is that I tend to do things in extremes. I’ll keep my room super neat, do my laundry every couple of days, meticulously read every page of my homework (highlighter at the ready), hold off on spending any flex, and make sure I’m in bed at a reasonable hour. And I’ll do all of those things like a champion. For a week. And then I get tired….or bored…or, oops, there goes half of my flex for the semester. I kind of get upset with myself for it, disappointed, really. I basically feel as if I’ve failed myself because I really wanted to embody hell-bent-on-law-school-while-winning-back-her-lover-Elle Woods and not just for seven days. Similarly, I was talking to a friend earlier today who is just plain fed up with his trials and errors. He was sick of his perceived “failures;” when he attempts to make a positive change for himself, he just can’t seem to stick with it or make it last.

Whether it be committing yourself to getting great grades, going to the gym three times a week, starting a new relationship or getting over an old one…these changes aren’t easy to make. In fact, they’re really, really difficult. Especially when you’re trying to tackle more than one at once. But new semesters seem so inviting. It’s like a finite measurement of time, inviting you to epically embark on the next ambitious chapter of your life. And then little things happen and…oh, well. I guess I’ll start my triumphant chapter next semester.

However, we cannot let feelings of defeat steer us off course. These desired modifications that we’re striving for, these new chapters of our lives that we’re so eager to write, though challenging, are attainable. A very important friend of mine who has worked and continues to work harder than anyone I know in order to achieve his goals has a favorite quote from the movie, “A League of Their Own”: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Anything great, anything worth achieving for ourselves as individuals, is going to require hard work.

So how lucky are we that society hands us a four-year grace period to literally try and fail, try and fail, and try and fail again. This is college. And through all of it, through all of the trial and error, we somehow come out a stronger, healthier, self-sufficient, and self-reliable person. But all of that time that we thought we were failing we were learning what not to do or how to do things differently. And are we ever really failing if we’re learning?

I say, “MESS UP.” Go ahead. At least you had the guts to try. Try out…get cut. At least you had what it takes to show up. Show up…get sent home. At least you were confident enough to take the initiative. Take the initiative… get rejected. At least you had the creativity to be innovative.

We go through a learning process with each perceived failure. So when it comes down to it, we’re not really failing at all. We’re testing the waters, testing ourselves, for four brilliant years where we’re actually encouraged to make mistakes while embarking on a journey to find what makes us happiest. To chase our dreams. To fall in love. Oops, wrong person. New person, same dream. Oops, wrong dream. Different dream, same person.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day challenges that we face as students, young adults, friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. Life can seem pretty heavy at times, especially when you’re looking far down the line, and beating yourself up about the B you got on your last paper. But college isn’t just about where you’ll be in ten years, or whom you’ll be with. It’s really about you, right now, figuring out whatever it is that you need to do to be the best, happiest you. For you.

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