To Be or Not To Be

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I don’t know if you all know this, but the original Hamlet “to be or not to be” quote is about suicide, and today I’m changing that association. This blog post is about living. You’ll see.

Well it’s a Friday night, the end of a four-day week, and what I hope has been a good day for you. This week has been a bit hectic in my life, classic quarter system week 7 with more midterms, projects, story reviews etc. The list goes on.

Maybe it’s because week 7 of my winter quarter is over and I’m realizing that I will only ever be able to say that one more time in my college career, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately… All of our paths.

Not a single one of them has been linear. Let me explain why this matters so much.

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Something about American culture, especially in my generation and below, makes us feel the need to compare ourselves and where we’re at with one another. You were either an early bird or a late bird, GATE or not GATE in elementary school. Then middle school and high school: you were in accelerated math/english or not, you were an AP student or not. We have grown up comparing ourselves to one another.

Even when it’s not really fair.

But now, when you get to age 20 or 21, most of our lives can’t be compared that easily. In college, we’re all in different majors and outside of college, everyone is doing something different.

Some people are married with kids, others are single and travelling the world—the rest of us are somewhere in between.

And somewhere between point A and… wherever we are now, someone told us that we’re supposed to be doing what all the other people are doing. But think about that. When we’re all doing something different, that makes “success” impossible. I guess what I’m saying is, with that attitude, we’ve been raised to fail.

Don’t you see that?

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The way I’ve been living my college years so far, at least the first two, I did things because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. From clubs to orientation, I joined things and became a part of my campus because I figured it was what I should do. If all my friends found themselves liking college by doing that, I thought it would make me happier here.

Long story short, it didn’t.

I felt out of touch with this campus, my schoolwork, and so much else that makes me who I am. After two years of doing things that I thought was good or right or better, I started listening to myself and trusting my gut.

But even more so, I began asking for help if I really wasn’t sure.

Then things started changing.

My relationships began to feel intentional, my goals started to feel more like mine, and my place on this campus started to feel a little more comfortable.

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Because I stopped looking at where everyone else was and started to think about where I wanted to be. That’s it. The only person I ever need to be is a little bit better than the girl I was yesterday. Sometimes, there will be steps back and other times there will be four steps forward.

No matter what, this week I’ve learned to let myself just exist as I am and stop comparing so much. Maybe now I can figure out what my own success might actually look like.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope you are all doing alright. Happy Friday.

Welcome to Year 2: Plan for Success

My sophomore year here at Cal Poly officially began yesterday morning and I can already tell that it’s going to be quite an… experience. Quick summary of my two days of class: Ran to catch the bus three times (only for it to be late), started work at the University Store, emailed far too many professors about crashing classes, denis-bayer-97398went from 8 units to 20 in three days, joined a large theatre lecture class made up mostly of freshmen, ran into a wonderful amount of familiar faces, and experienced my first 8-10pm class.

This is going to be a year of firsts and a whole lot of learning.

There’s something surprisingly comforting about not being new to the whole college thing this year— I’m more comfortable than I thought I would be just having been here already, whether I felt like I knew what I was doing or not. I guess there’s something to be said about knowing that there are trials ahead, but at least having an idea of what to expect. That’s the difference between being a freshman and being a sophomore, I actually know how rough this can be.

I also know how fantastic this can be.

As it is with so much in life, the key to getting it all right is balance. I can’t spend all my free time at work because I still need to study. I can’t spend all my free time studying because I have committed to a job. And I also can’t only go to class and do those two things because, well, this is college— a social life is somewhat necessary for both sanity and survival.

So maybe the question is how do any of us find that balance between everything?

First of all,ben-duchac-66002 your people are so important. Not only do they keep you in check to say “hey, we haven’t seen you around lately,” reminding you that there are people who want you, but they also to check in on you when you forget to do it yourself. With a world heading towards higher productivity and more time working, we often forget to take breaks for ourselves or step back from things and remember to breathe. Our people are always important to pull us back when we fall off course.

Rule number two: Make a plan. We’re all busy people, I get that, and it can be hard to keep track of everything going on in our lives. So make some plans, get a planner going, and mark down some due dates. The key to this part is organization— the faster you get more organized, the easier it is to figure out all the information and to do lists in your head. At least for me, I know that when I’ve got a lot on my plate, it’s at least nice to see on paper that it’s possible to do it all. A little confidence boost never hurt, even when it just comes from everything fitting in one box on my calendar.

Rule number three: Failure to succeed is not the same as failure. Does that make sense? Let’s put this in lettered terms— there is a large margin between passing a class with an A and failing one with a D. If you’re giving something your best shot, asking for help when you need it, and doing what you can to get to where you want to be, that’s all you can ask of yourself. andreas-kind-338509Your best isn’t always going to get you an A, not when there are so many other things to focus on and remember. Lucky for us, a C is still passing. And sometimes, that’s the best we can do. Find a way to be okay with that, and if you can’t, then find a way to make your best a little bit better.

And finally, rule number four: You come first. If your body is telling you something, if you’re constantly tired or have a hard time getting through the day, something has to change. Burnout is very possible, both in work and in education, and it takes a toll on everything you do from your relationships to your sleeping habits. Even when it seems you can’t slow down or you have no other option but the pace you’re currently going at, there is always another way. It just might not be ideal. Before you even get there, it’s best to avoid burnout altogether by taking the time you need for yourself every day, not skipping meals, and definitely not skipping sleep. But it’s not always easy to stick to that, even with the best intentions. So if you fall a little behind on self-care, take whatever steps you need to in order to get back to good health. For college students, that could even mean a quick trip home or dropping a class— do what you need to do. And don’t forget about your people, the good ones are always there to help you out. All you need to do is ask.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and in the midst of the natural disasters and recovery efforts we see around the world, I am also reminded that some allef-vinicius-230238tragedies are those we don’t see. From the American Psychological Association back in 2013, 41.6% of college students struggled with anxiety, 36.4% with depression, and 35.8% with relationship problems. These three top issues can all lend a hand into impacting the wellbeing of students and if ignored for too long, they could become too large for one person to handle. I say this to point out that these percentages are not small— if you are a part of it, that is okay. You are not alone and you do not have to feel like you are either. Like I said earlier, ask for help and do what you need to do to get yourself to a good place, you deserve that much.

This world is a beautiful place and this life is a beautiful thing, at least I know it can be. So as I go into year two, I am going to do my best to embody the beauty, even amidst the turmoil of getting my life together. And hey, if I’m lucky, maybe running after busses can be a part of it too. Until next week everyone, have a wonderful weekend and here’s to the beauty 🙂