If you know me now, you would not recognize high school me. Not because I died my hair or changed my style. I physically look the same.
Mentally, I have changed extremely. In high school, I was involved in just about everything. I played three sports, was editor of my school’s paper, was treasurer of the business club and worked every weekend. I was always stressed and on edge.
My typical day was miserable. I woke up at about 5 a.m. to finish homework from the night before. Then I went to school around 8 a.m. with coffee in hand. I forfeited a lunch period to take AP Economics. After school I would go to soccer/swim/track practice, depending on the season. I would come home, after stopping at Starbucks, to do as much homework as I could before I fell asleep on my textbooks. Monday through Friday was traumatizing. Weekends were not much better and were filled with homework and hosting at a local restaurant. Occasionally my friends would essentially kidnap me and force me to hangout with them.
On paper, or to college admissions, I was great. That was all that seemed to matter.
However, spring of senior year I quit track and actually started having a life. I could go to concerts and on road trips with my friends. I realized how much I missed out on during high school. Quitting one thing, and having just a few hours of free time showed me how much more to life there was than looking perfect on paper.
Coming to college, I was determined to not spread myself too thin on activities I did not even enjoy. I hated the stress I put myself through and was determined to not revert to it.
Midterms and finals always test me. It tempts me to call my mom sobbing, and to be honest sometimes I still do. Luckily, I have found better ways to cope and deal with stress. I have found ways to put myself and my sanity first.
1. Find a good playlist
It took me a long time to realize I can’t just listen to my favorite songs to study. If I do this, I always use it as an excuse to distract myself. I would find myself making new playlists or watching music videos.
Last semester, I found the one thing that got me through finals. The Vitamin String Quartet is now the only music I will study to, and I recommend it to everyone, no matter how strange it sounds. Essentially, it is a quartet that covers popular music, so you can enjoy common sounds without lyrics. They have everything from Kanye West to Lady Gaga to Radiohead.
2. Go to the gym
The last thing I want to do between classes and studying is workout. However, I now use it as a way to ~productively~ procrastinate. I return to my favorite rap songs that I can’t study to, and take about an hour of me time. Working out gives me more energy and serves as a distraction.
3. Have a something to look forward to
Lucky for me, my midterms week was followed by a spring break trip to Mexico. Obviously, that never normally happens after a long week, so even having little things to look forward to are important. I always do better if I give myself a reward. I try get myself excited over ANYTHING, such as going to a concert, trying a new restaurant or even seeing my cat, in order to make the hard work seem more bearable.
As stressful as school may be, I have to keep it a priority to not let it control my happiness and sanity. It took for 18 years to realize I would take an occasional B over being miserable. That being said, have a great spring break!