The Stress of Starting Over

I am a mature student and starting my life over again from scratch has been exciting and liberating.  It has also been overwhelming and stress inducing.  When I left a terrible and toxic past behind in pursuit of a brighter and more meaningful future, I expected that balancing work and studies would be difficult and was prepared to learn new skills in time management and stress management.  I had no idea; however, that social dynamics would become my biggest hurdle.

I like to describe my current life situation like Christmas dinner.  There’s the adults table and the kids table.  I however, don’t belong at either.  Many of my instructors and friends are fully accomplished and are years ahead of myself.  On the other hand, I am surrounded by a group of young adults, most of whom are barely outside of puberty and so finding my place within this new environment of students has been a lonely struggle.  My maturity does; however, give me some advantages: I am unafraid to be different, I am open with my emotions, have little time for gossip, have the capacity to appreciate a variety of different people, and have a passion and perseverance to overcome obstacles and find the positivity in every situation.

So, when the young students call me their “school mom”, I find comfort in the fact that I help nurture a group of individuals who need extra support and know that this capacity is appreciated.  I take pleasure in being able to connect with a younger group of individuals, that teaches me patience and shows me an excitement that is admirable.  I respect my own accomplishments and appreciate the growth that I have had, since I was 18, and it makes me excited to know that I am sure to see even more personal development as I go through this program.

Ultimately, I know that I don’t have to sit at the kids table or the grown ups table.  I sit at a table of my own making and welcome a new group of diverse individuals.  Many of whom will be older and younger, many whom I can teach or whom may teach me, but all of whom are on a journey of education and enlightenment.  I have chosen, as I enter my second semester, to approach these struggles as opportunities.  This experience will make me wiser, but perhaps keep me younger and I will carve my own unique place in this world, choosing optimism over fear.

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The Punishment of Perfection

I have anxiety and I know that my future success will be built upon the achievements of today.  I go through my head and imagine a day, four years from now, when I accept my degree and am acknowledged for my hard work and dedication.  What scares me most; however, is having that degree mean nothing.  In a world as it exists today, people leave with degrees that are meaningless and instead spend their adult years, moving from one precarious position to another.  I want to write a post that is inspirational and helpful, but mostly I want to write a post that is honest.  I struggle day in and day out to achieve my best, impress my professors, earn the respect of my faculty, involve myself in student activities, maintain romantic and personal connections, work to support myself and my academic endeavours and maintain my own mental health.

I feel as though the weight of my entire future happiness is resting on the achievements of today and I hope I am not alone, when I say that it is overwhelming.  I manage everything entirely well, I remain calm and persevere under the pressure and achieve more than I ever thought possible.  I manage until I no longer can.  I sit alone, crying in the bathtub, hyperventilating and feeling the panic surge through my body.  I feel a weight on my chest and rationally, I know that I am not having a heart attack, but it feels so real.  The worst is when I begin to feel dizzy and like a fuzzy feeling comes over my head, as though I am walking through a dream, as though I am stepping outside my body and I can’t manage to climb back inside.

I know that I need to accept less than perfection, I know that I am running a marathon and not a sprint and I know that something must give, or else my mental health will be the ultimate sacrifice.  I will work hard this semester to accept that perfection isn’t always obtainable.  I am trying to coach myself to respect myself and this is the true way to earn the respect of my peers and professors.  I will try to be compassionate with myself.  In that moment however, I had to settle for finding the strength to climb back into my skin, settle my breathing, calm my heart and dry my tears.  For today, that will have to be enough, for today, I will have to be enough.

Can Stress be a Good Thing?

So, a few things happened to me just before school started, I got a job with campus walk and a teaching assistant job. I got an email with a contract and information and then started balling my eyes out. Why is it that when good things happen to me I feel like I don’t deserve it. I felt overwhelmed at the thought of having three jobs, being a full-time student, peer leader, UOIT ambassador, WUSC ambassador,  mental health advisory committee member and being a vice president of my sorority. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything I possibly can on campus, to get amazing grades, to make money and to try to have a life. This situation is one of those times when a good cry, having a little chat with a friend and cuddling up to my dog make me feel better. I ended up not being able to do both jobs on campus which took some stress off.

I finished the semester on Dean’s list and didn’t drop the ball on any of my responsibilities. I also loved being a TA, I wasn’t perfect. I know I messed up a bit and got nervous and shuddered all the time but, I laughed it off and moved on. I’m glad I took everything on, it made me a better student and person.

Taking Time to Relax

As students we often feel as though we do not have time to relax, or feel guilty when we take a day off from studying. I know I personally do this. I will start watching a movie and feel as though there are 100 other things I should be doing. But sometimes we just need a break.

It’s important to take some time each day to relax. By doing so we reduce our changes of burning out and feel more refreshed once we go back to work.

Exams are creeping up which means everyone is stressed to the max! In order to keep sane, take short breaks while trying to review the entire semester in a few short nights. If you feel as though you can no longer be productive, it is definitely time to take a break. Have a nap, watch an episode or two of your favourite tv show, go outside for a walk, do something that makes you happy and relaxed. This will only help you accomplish more.

Best of luck on all your exams! Remember to make time to relax!

Almost There

So here I am, another year of school has gone by. I have no more midterms, and two more assignments to go. This does not include the various things I will need to apply/interview for but you know what? I feel good. I’m almost at the finish line.

For some reason as exams draw nearer, I feel less stressed…for now. So I plan to enjoy it while it lasts. I can finally take a step back and breathe. I’m excited to be almost done my 3rd year of university, but also a bit sad because I will be graduating this time next year. I won’t go into detail and dwell on my future of what will happen even in forth year. Right now, I want to feel in the moment for once. Think about the current situation rather than the future. I want to enjoy my calmness while it lasts, although I know it won’t last long.

I would like to take this time to reflect. I feel this school year has been a lot about growth, grace under pressure and taking on too much. I’ve learned a lot. The most important I feel has been to give myself a break, physically and mentally. I may want to do all that I can and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but maybe that’s a good thing. Limits are a good thing because they let us know (no matter how stubborn we are or try to fight it) when it’s time to take a break or just move on. Limits give us a place to draw a mark in the sand, so we know not to go any further. And though I do believe that we all need to push our limits at times, it should not be an every day thing. I don’t want to push myself so hard and keep redrawing my line in the sand to the point where I don’t realise that I’m about to fall of a cliff or have life pass me by.

I want to have balance in my life. I know it will be hard, and I know it won’t be easy, but I feel ready. Obviously this comes after surviving one of my most stressful years in my academic career, now knowing that I can do it. But I don’t know, I feel confident. I know what success feels like and failure too. I’m still learning more and more about myself but at the same time, I’m not where I am when I first started university. Thus, with regard to the end of this school year, I am happy to say I am almost there. I made it. Not because of the late night study sessions, the lack of sleep, the countless commitments I made, but the people around me. Those I helped and those who helped me, even if they didn’t know it. And that’s a good feeling to have, so I’m going to hold onto it for as long as I can.

Well wishes,

L.R.

The Troubles with being a Social Introvert

Growing up, I have always loved being around people and socializing at parties. One of my favourite past times is hanging out with large groups of people because you will always find someone to talk to or something to do! Although I love to socialize, I’ve only ever had a handful of close friends, and as I’ve grown up the handful has gotten smaller as some of my friends have moved away.

Although I’m a socializer, I’m very introverted. I enjoy having time to myself, I am perfectly comfortable with watching movies alone over the weekend, and you will probably never catch me asking people to hangout after class. I feel super uncomfortable when I am faced with making the decision to try and get close with someone. My good friends have always been the more extroverted, who would plan the social gatherings and bring me along. Now that those friends have went across Canada and the US to different universities, I find myself in a rather strange predicament. I want to go out with friends, but am too shy to meet people. Peculiar dilemma, isn’t it?

The craving to socialize has always been there, but when you are placed in large classes, how do you do it? If you are going through something similar, I’ve devised a plan to help you (and I) get to know some university students without feeling awkward about it.

1 – Check out the sororities on campus! 

Looking at how close students in sororities interact with one another and really get to know each other is envious. I wish while I began attending university I looked into UOIT’s sororities just so that I could get to meet people and feel connected to others. Its a funny thing because my friends were ALL in sororities at their universities, and the amount of close friends they walked away with is amazing. You can find everlasting connections while on campus, and this is one of the ways to achieve them!

2 – Join a club or a committee that interests you!

Honestly, THERE ARE CLUBS FOR EVERYTHING! Just a quick google search of UOIT’s campus clubs makes me wish I would have looked into it earlier. Do you like gardening? There’s a club for that! Do you like art, drama, dance, or music? Clubs for that too! Are you religious and would like a place to meet others with the same religious values? There are clubs for that! What about humanitarian opportunities, board games, billiards, sports, SUPER SMASH BROS (I’m not kidding), like there is literally a club for everything. Find a hobby of yours or something that you are really interested in, and join the club to meet like minded people. You may have to pull of the bandaid of actually attending the sessions, but hey, think of all the cool stuff you’d be involved in and the amount of people you will meet who share your interests.

3 – Create a study group for your class!

This is something that not only will benefit you socially, but it can also benefit your grades (and we can all use that). Through blackboard, just message the whole class asking if people would like to get together for a study group, I GUARANTEE YOU people will respond. Even if you do not end up hanging out with the students on the weekend, it is still a way to meet people and to have that social fulfillment of being around others. You may meet your new best friend this way, you never know. Keep an open mind!

PSA to you all: Do not pull a “me” and go through your whole university career wishing you  met more people. I’m graduating in April and I regret not joining clubs or looking into ways to meet the students I’ve sat beside for the past 4 years. I seriously recommend looking into what UOIT offers, because I never did and I think it would have made my university experience THAT much better!

Time Management – How Do I Do It?

I am not trying to toot my own horn here but I am actually the best person I know at time management. I mean I would have to be with having two jobs, school full time, being on a committee and being a peer mentor…basically if I didn’t have amazing time management skills I think I would lose my mind. A lot of people ask me how I do it and I have decided to compose a list of ways you can be better at time management:

  1. Organization is everything – If you are not organized in your notes, daily schedules or things you do, then how do you expect to be organized in your head? I can admit I am not perfect and there are things I forget about all the time (supper is my best example) but by keeping some aspects of your life organized it will help to multi-task.
  2. Keep track of what you need to do, when you need to do it, and where – Keep a calendar, sticky notes, hell write it on your hand if it helps! It helps with organization, time keeping and it keeps you on track for what you need to do.
  3. Make a weekly schedule – Plan out your day, week, month, or even year! Determine how long you want to plan things for and do it. It honestly helps me when I know I have a deadline and make time around everything I need to do and what work needs to be done.
  4. Try to get your work done ahead of time – By making these schedules not only will you be able to work around other schedules like work and extra circulars, but you will be able to feel ahead of the game and be on the ball!

By following my list you should be able to be on your way to being a successful time manager!

Getting back in rhythm

Starting a new semester can be very daunting and frustrating, I know personally I am struggling to find my rhythm in my last semester. This led me to finding ways to quickly find a good rhythm to start off my final semester right and strong.  Some ideas that I have found to be successful thus far are:

  1. Having and planner or agenda
  2. Print off your class schedules
  3. Plan your readings and week
  4. Go to sleep and wake up roughly the same time everyday
  5. Stay caught up on readings
  6. Plan ahead for major assignments
  7.  Set aside time for enjoyable things
  8. Turn off distractions when in class or studying
  9. Sit with people who won’t be distracting
  10. Focus on on task at a time

Hopefully some of these tips will help you keep on track as we enter another semester. Remember, planning is a big part of staying on top of many things in school.

Sea-Set

The End is Near… and the Anxiety is Real

Going into my final semester of my final year of University is well.. bitter sweet. I have worked very hard to get to this point but at the end of the rainbow is there really a pot of gold?

Now I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am pretty deathly ill and it’s just the cold medicine talking, or if I am still really just a little baby who does not want to adult, but the anxiety of this being over is super real and hard hitting. Do I want this to be over and all my hard work pays off and I get that beautiful piece of paper that cost me about 60,000 dollars or more? HELL YEAH I DO… but at the same time then I have to go out and get an adult job and what if that doesn’t happen?

Granted I mean I am taking another program (my family likes to call me the professional scholar) so that should give me time to reflect and take a step back and prepare myself for the future… but the future is scary and I don’t know if I am ready to get out of my blanket fort and put down the crayons. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.. maybe we can get a secret fort club together and try to one by one take it down eventually? Or we could just continue to color in coloring books until the inevitable happens. What do you say?

Positivity goes a long way, and hell so does a good nap and a blanket! Adulting can wait, til next time folks! PS. Join my club please, it’s lonely here haha

  • Trisha

 

 

Reflecting on the semester

Once exams are done, we often try to forget about school at least until final grades are released. However, it can be nice to look back at all you accomplished through the previous semester. Maybe you studied more for all your exams this year than you did last term. Or perhaps you were able to get 5% higher than usual on a paper. Or maybe you were able to force yourself to get up an attend every 8 am class you had this semester. It is important to reflect on our accomplishments. Looking back at how the previous semester went is also good for setting future goals. It will be easier to remember how much you studied, how many classes you attended, and how well you did on assignments near the end of the semester, opposed to waiting until the next one starts. My suggestion to you is to take 5-10 minutes and think about the previous semester and what you were able to accomplish, as well as set a goal or two for how you can improve your studies come the winter term.