I’m going to be honest: I really haven’t been looking forward to starting a new semester. While I am extraordinarily pleased to be taking on my new position at The Daily Eastern News as Managing Editor, I am not quite ready to take on all the stress that comes with a new school year.
It feels as though my summer began a few weeks ago, and between the two jobs I held, I had little free time to go out and enjoy the warm weather.
So here I am again, starting another school year, barely avoiding a panic while I try not to think about all the deadlines coming this semester and the things I never had time to do over the summer.
I’ve been told that the college years are some of the most enjoyable ones in a person’s life. But how can I sit back and enjoy myself when my anxietal demons are constantly reminding me of the deadlines and other pressures lingering in the not-so-far-off future?
Everything is so temporary, and there are so many unanswered questions at this stage in life. Where am I going to get a job after I graduate? Who am I supposed to marry? Where am I supposed to live? How am I going to pay off my student debt?
Yet, we don’t even have time to worry about most of this stuff because of the more immediate questions confronting us. How am I going to meet all these deadlines? Why isn’t my professor getting back to me? And for some, how am I going to pay for food this week?
With all of this mystery we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is no wonder that college students are generally the most stressed of all people.
While I cannot verify that stress improves after graduation, I can verify from my personal experience is that things will work out for the best in the end. I may not have realized why certain things were happening at the time, but time has revealed a lesson in each of my major hardships.
I have many examples to demonstrate this and much more to say about the topic, so much so that I will save it for another week.
Right now, I want to discuss what is getting me through this stress.
Since it is only the beginning of the semester, I am starting by trying to get ahead while I can. When I have a free minute before I have to leave for class, instead of checking my phone I will get a quick chore done so I won’t have to do it later.
When I have multiple assignments, I do the small ones first to get them off my to-do list and motivate me to work on larger projects.
And when it seems like I have no control over things, I try to get stuff done around my apartment to create the illusion I have my life together.
But most importantly, I am trying to focus on the good things I have.
I am a very sensitive person, and even the smallest inconvenience starts to send me into a downward spiral. As a result of this, I try to use the small victories in my life to remind myself that not everything is bad.
For instance, even if a page doesn’t load on my computer, I get frustrated. But then I get a text from an acquaintance I haven’t heard from in a while, and it lifts my spirits.
Another example is that I will feel dejected if someone acts irritated with me. But when someone compliments me, it puts the biggest, most awkward smile on my face.
One of my greatest woes is that I have had trouble maintaining friendships since I arrived at Eastern Illinois University three years ago. I never know what to say in conversation, I never seem to click with anyone, and I usually end up distancing myself anyway due to depression and anxiety. So to ease my internal pain, I try to think about the fact that I have an amazing boyfriend who will consistently support me and keep me company.
All in all, stressors are everywhere, and frustration is bound to occur on a weekly, probably daily basis.
Just know that there are plenty of positive things to embrace as well, no matter how small.
And what is equally important to know is you are not alone. None of us really know what we’re doing with our lives. We all have weeks that seem like everything is going on at once, but we’ve made it this far. We will continue to make it. And we will survive.
Kristen Ed is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]