So here we are in the final stretch of the semester, and as spring arrives so does the chirping of the negative chimes. Everywhere I go it seems students are seen hiding in library cubbies, drinking large amounts of Starbucks coffee with their heads buried down as they type furiously away on their laptops. It’s that time of year again, where the work is piled high like Mount Everest and it seems that no matter how high you hike, the mountain never gets any smaller. So I decided to take each negative phrase I heard and turn it into a positive thought. I’m challenging you all to take off the negative lens and see another outlook.
Negative:I can’t believe I only have about two weeks left; I’m never going to have enough time to get everything done before I graduate.
Positive:I can’t believe I only have two weeks left, but I know I’m going to spend the time with my friends, going on fun adventures, plaza dates and even study groups in the library.
Negative: Oh my, there is so much pollen all over campus, make it go away!
Positive: Oh my there is so much pollen all over campus but at least its nice and warm out so I can get sit on the great lawn with friends.
Negative:If I am assigned one more paper, my procrastination is going to kill me.
Positive: If I’m assigned one more paper, I may become the queen of procrastination and should win an award for getting all those assignments done.
Negative: Eating all this food from the dinning hall is making me fat.
Positive: Eating all this food from the dining hall is encouraging me to go to the gym.
These are just a few of the ways to turn a negative thought into a positive one. I know it’s hard with all the finals and the beach so close, but you can push through. A lot of our negativity stems from perspective and a change in perspective can really affect one’s mood and overall demeanor. Most times if your outlook on something is happy, then that will reflect onto others. Your smile and positive reinforcement could turn someone’s day around, always remember that. If you have any thoughts you want turned into a positive please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to bring some positivity your way! Just remember each storm will pass, and on your cloudiest of days remember to let the sunshine in.
In which I have no motivation to finish my essay.
What would you do if you had extra time?
Personally, I would hammock in the trees behind Commons while catching up on the novels I have been struggling to get through this semester. Or, grab a friend or two and reminisce about all our awkward stories from freshman year (it makes me sound older when I say “freshman year” instead of “last year”).
But, seriously? What would you do?
Join a club you’ve always been interested in? Chat up a stranger in Einstein’s? Establish a nifty exercise routine? By the way, CNU’s gym offers all sorts of exercise classes, from yoga to Zumba to cycling, so there’s something to keep everyone active regardless of your level of expertise. Trust me, you can still have fun in a Zumba class even if you can’t dance. I can personally testify.
Would you grab lunch with an old classmate and catch up on where life has taken you both? Or, learn to play a musical instrument? Volunteer somewhere? Get a part-time job? I’m currently job searching for the summer, and it’s got to be one of my least favorite activities. This whole “growing up” thing is not as easy as the movies portrayed it to be.
Maybe you would learn a foreign language. Or, maybe you would adopt a pet. Road trip the state of Virginia (there’s actually quite a lot to see here). The possibilities are vast!
A wise man (aka my father) once told me: “There’s always time to do the things you want to do.” That’s absolutely true. If something is important to you, it’ll get done. And if it’s not, it won’t cross your radar. So, if an idea has been sitting in the back of your mind for a while, make some time for it. Shift your schedule. Make new plans. Immerse yourself in what’s important. You can do it!
A few months ago, I got the chance to work a night shift at my first beloved home at CNU, Santoro Hall. Admittedly, I felt some serious jolts of excitement, and probably more nostalgia, as I walked up to the old red-brick building and rapped on to the glass door. Although I’ve never moved outside of my family’s home in Northern Virginia, I think the feeling of visiting somewhere you used to live is pretty much the same—there on my left was that same burgundy-colored couch and the same blue-speckled floor, all reminding me of my own time living in Santoro.
As I move out and the youngest students on campus move up, I’ll leave some advice from myself and some freshman year friends for not only making the college experience less stressful, but also for cultivating your own personal development.
“Call your family every so often. It’s easy to get caught up with your life here and let days, weeks and sometimes months go by without talking to your family. College is busy, and college is fun, but make time for your family. They have made time for you for the past 18 or so years, and you shouldn’t let those relationships wither—nurture them.”–Daniel, mathematics major and psychology minor
Pick your battles. This is a big one, and honestly is not just advice I would give to freshmen—it’s an ongoing lesson that everyone should strive for. If I’d learned to pick my battles more wisely and choose what I was going to make a fuss over better, things might’ve not been much different, but at least I would have learned a little more about a thing called maturity. And while it’s easy to react to every spark and flame, it’s also just as easy to walk away.
“One piece of advice you should really consider is time management. Time management is essential to having a successful college career. If you can manage your time right from classes, social life, extracurricular activities and studying, you will be stress free.” –Jeremy, biology major with organismal concentration and psychology minor
Don’t let others decide what kind of person you’re going to be. How many times have you heard this phrase in your 18 or 19 years of life? Probably too many, but its importance never fades. Everyone, from elementary to high school, must remember at least one time when fitting in was such an integral part of growing up. Hey, I mean I wore some pretty questionable things when I was younger for the sake of “looking cool.” When you go to college, however, don’t care so much about trying to fit in with the cool kids—you are the one who has to live with yourself for the next 50-plus years.
Every semester there’s always the uncomfortable phase where you have to tell your professor you have accommodations. You’ve been given that big manila envelope with forms that each professor has to sign. I used to hope no one would notice, but now I don’t care if anyone knows because I’m proud. I’m proud of my story.
Every scar tells a story. The science of diagnosing a broken bone is not that mysterious. A simple X-ray thrown against a lighted screen easily confirmed my 30-degree fracture, as if my misshapen wrist wasn’t evidence enough that something was clearly wrong. It was the product of a nasty bicycle accident the week of Hurricane Isabel. The treatment plan was five stainless steel screws and a metal plate. Although the experience was painful, injury did have its rewards. In elementary school, any bandaged appendage brought sympathy from your peer group. It was an instant badge of courage.
However, the scars of being diagnosed with a learning disability tell a different story. There’s no visible badge of courage. No cast your friends can sign. On the contrary, you duck and hope nobody snickers when your teacher announces it’s time for you to meet with the remedial reading assistant. But I was determined to excel for myself and to prove to others that there is no shame in having a learning disability. But something still was not right. Unlike being able to wait out the healing process of a broken bone, there is no timeframe or medical gadgetry that tells you how long you’re going to struggle with spelling, phonetics or the often dreaded math word problem. I soon learned I had dyslexia. It was this epiphany, which helped me discover there is no shame in having a learning disability, and perhaps the greatest badge of courage is earned and worn within the heart, and not on any appendage. And while every scar tells a story, it’s the journey, not the beginning or end that makes me the proudest of my story.
Throughout my schooling I have never felt more supported then I do at CNU. They have an amazing accommodation program and the professors are more than willing to help. Having their amazing support makes it that much easier to tell my story. Some of you may understand the anxiety of that manila envelope but next semester when you get one, hold it up and be proud of who you are. Whether you have accommodations or not, remember to be proud of your imperfections because that’s what makes us unique. Every scar tells a story, don’t be afraid to tell yours.
In which I share my personal tips for dealing with stress and staying on top of assignments as we all approach finals.
One of my favorite things about CNU is our holding doors tradition. It’s pretty simple: if you’re entering a building or room on campus and someone is close behind you, you prop the door open for them before walking in yourself. It’s a small gesture, but it means a lot to me. On days like today, especially, when the rain is pouring down and your hands are full with a to-go salad from the Chick-fil-A Express and a bulky wallet, it’s fantastic to have a fellow Captain hold the door open for you. It saves you the trouble of shifting everything you’re carrying into one precarious tower balanced on your non-dominant hand as you fumble for that magical student ID that has somehow found its way into the deepest recesses of your raincoat’s pocket. And, it’s one of those little reminders that there is goodwill left in humanity.
It’s always odd for me on breaks from school to go out somewhere public and not have a door held open. Or, on the flip side, to hold a door open for someone out of CNU habit and receive a bewildered look. Holding a door is probably one of the easiest ways to make someone’s day a little brighter, and it’s unfortunate that it’s not more common. However, it’s refreshing to get back to school and fall back into a rhythm of being courteous.
I know this sounds like a pretty amazing tradition (and, it is!), but it has brought about its share of awkwardness for me. For example, if you’re not careful about your hand placement on the door and your timing of letting the door fall into their hands, there’s a great possibility your hands will touch. Whenever this happens to me, I feel obligated to apologize and introduce myself; I mean, our hands touched – we should obviously become best friends. However, my potential best friend is always headed somewhere in a rush, and so there’s no time to smooth out the awkwardness. Another example of door-holding woes would have to be the appropriate door-holding distance. Of course, you’ll hold the door for the kid right behind you, but what about the kid a few paces back? Or, the one 15 feet away? Or, the one still crossing the road? Can someone inform me on when to wait and hold the door and when to walk on in?
Believe me, I have been that girl who holds the door for you while you’re still halfway across the Trible Plaza. You start to jog in slow-motion towards the door I’m propping open, and every second I wait I think, “Gee, that one really was too far away. But, I can’t close the door now because they’re already slow-motion jogging towards me.” It’s awkward for both of us, but please, just accept my door-holding faux pas with a smile.
I’m still figuring this out.
Six schools, seven essays, countless revisions of a resume and personal statement, four breakdowns, and a switch between two schools later – I have officially decided what I am going to do for the next two years of my life. Ah, graduate school … the masters, the thesis, the continued addiction to coffee and the ability to read 300 pages a night … sounds … great. By the first few months of your senior year as an undergrad you begin to realize that the finish line is nearing and that you have multiple paths in front of you; unfortunately, you can only pick one (for now). I toyed with the idea of continuing my summer job full-time, of applying for multiple types of jobs, of moving to either DC, Chicago or NYC to audition for shows, or to really become one with my Netflix account until I finally decided on grad school. No one told me I had to go to grad school; rather I’ve heard the opposite because of the amount of loans I am taking out to make this goal possible. Yes, I’ll be in debt, but continuing my education just feels right.
I have always loved school – honestly. I like firm schedules and deadlines mixed with creative expression and flexible projects. I truly think teachers need to be paid the highest salaries and be given far more credit than they have yet to receive, and most importantly, I love learning. Due to my mentorship with Dr. Grace Godwin (whom I’ve previously mentioned), I have gained much more faith in my abilities as a writer, an academic and a theatrical individual. Because of the multitude of classes I have taken at CNU, ranging from exploring Buddhism in an honors seminar to examining the emerging genre of magic realism in an English class, my areas of interest and skill have become more defined while still maintaining an appreciation for a plethora of subjects. In the fall I will be attending Loyola University Chicago to earn my masters in English.
Despite theater being my first major, I felt that while I am still in the academic mind-frame and with the program’s flexibility to work with the stage, English was not only the most “responsible” program for me to enter into but also the best of both worlds. Of course, I’m asked the questions, “What do you want to do?” “What about acting?” “Are you just going to teach then?” to which I must first clarify that teaching is NEVER a fallback career and for those who use it as such are not truly called to the noble profession. Additionally, I will still be auditioning for productions in Chicago while working toward my masters. I have never been one to do just one thing, and CNU has given me the opportunity to understand that you don’t have to settle for a job but can create your own career. Call me idealistic or naïve, I am nonetheless excited to cultivate my passions both professionally and theatrically.
Fellow blogger Laura Kate is an ace at cranking out witty, down-to-earth blog posts at a faster rate than it takes me to get ready in the morning, which is like 10 minutes tops. One of her recent posts about procrastination made me smile, mostly because I cannot physically or mentally procrastinate, but also because she made it sound so, so relaxing. Who knew not doing work could be fun? (Apparently, a lot of people but me.)
So here’s my own anti-fun list of productivity. You’d probably rather listen to what Laura Kate says but in case you actually want to focus, here’s a guide!
- You see your phone? Just look at it, begging you to pick it up and check Facebook or something. You want productivity? Turn your phone off, put it in a drawer, DO SOMETHING to it so that it won’t provide you with any more distractions. (Just don’t chuck it or whatever.)
- There’s an app called StayFocused you can download that limits the time you spend pointlessly surfing the Internet by temporarily blocking your access to certain sites or domains within a given time limit. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds diabolically productive.
- Some people look toward religious scriptures for guidance, I look toward my sacred to-do lists. Every week, I start by looking at my syllabi and writing down which assignments I want to do each day. If you plan enough, you might find yourself one or two weeks ahead of schedule!
- Also related to to-do lists: don’t try to finish an entire project in one sitting; split it up! On Monday, work on the introduction. On Tuesday, finish up finding sources … You get the drift.
- Not only are to-do lists sacred, but weekly schedules are as well. Before every semester started, I would print out a schedule of when all my classes and work shifts would take place. In every empty block, I’d fill in other things like getting lunch, going to the gym and studying in the library. Remember folks, good productivity starts with good habits.
- I’m a morning person, so waking up early is easy for me. But it’s also good for your productivity. If you wake up early and get the most important tasks done first, you can avoid the laziness slump later in the day.
- Here’s a neat-freak fact of life: mess equals stress. No, this isn’t avoiding productivity, but if you find yourself feeling cluttered, take a look around. Are there dirty clothes on the floor? Take-out boxes piled up beside the door? Maybe that dust is getting on your nerves? Take a few to tidy up—you’ll feel a lot better when you do.
- I said not to do a whole project in one sitting, don’t confuse that with the tendency to multi-task. Instead, try single-tasking; you’ll have a more productive time finishing small segments one at a time than juggling biology homework while also writing a sociology paper.
You’ll notice that my ninth tip is missing—I decided to take Laura Kate’s advice and spend some time in the warm sun, instead of finishing my ninth and final thought. I mean, productivity’s great and all, but as students we also have to remember to take a break and relax once in awhile. It’s not like that homework assignment or paper is going anywhere!
In which I discuss a deeper meaning to life, college and cereal, with the help of John Green