This article was originally published on Unwritten.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Stop stressing.” They’re the pre-programmed responses most people give me when I lose my shit after a bad day and start reevaluating the possibility of not getting out of bed the next day. My night will almost definitely be spent vividly imaging far-fetched ways my life will inevitably be ruined by all of my subconscious college stressors.
Simply letting go of preoccupations is obviously easier said than done, right? Absolutely. But hear me when I tell you, the seemingly clichéd piece of advice to “stop stressing” is not meant to be dismissive – it’s legit advice, so listen.
Each of the following anxieties has perturbed me all the way through grad school and I wish I’d have known how to snuff them out before it was too late to matter.
1. Earning Top Grades In Every Class
It’s normal to hope for perfect scores on everything. But with 12, 15, or even 18 credits a semester, it can be damn near impossible. Guess what? That’s okay. Build your semester schedule with at least two gen ed classes and filled the rest in with core classes. That way the majority of my focus was only on a portion of the credits I was taking during the semester. Don’t completely blow off your gen eds, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t perform stellar in them. Save your stress for the classes that will provide you with the material you’ll actually need for your career. You’ll be able to manage your workload a lot more easily if you organize your schedule like this from the beginning.
2. Your Asshat Of A Roommate
My roommate freshman year was direct proof that student housing departments are all run by Satan. We spent the first half of the year silently fighting over the thermostat throughout the night and arguing over the true definition of clean. We spent the second half of the year completely avoiding each other whenever possible. I actually slept in my boyfriend’s room (that’s two people in a tiny twin bed for 5 months) just to get away from her. It really doesn’t matter, though. I promise. Make the most of it, find your own space on campus if it isn’t your room and it’ll be old news when you live on your own in a year or two. She and I actually speak with each other every once in a while now and it’s pretty liberating.
3. Making Enough Friends
I’m an introvert. I’m 100% happy being left alone for days in a dark corner of my room with coffee, laptop, and blanket. Just the act of someone asking me to hang out immediately makes me question why I ever left my room, to begin with. Look, you don’t need to be a Regina George. Simply being yourself helps you find a small circle of friends who complement you perfectly. These relationships will last a lifetime, and ultimately will be way more meaningful. Who else can you depend on when you just need someone to actually Netflix and Chill with after a hard day of adulting?
4. Everyone Has Someone – Except You
As I said about friends, you’ll most likely find that perfect someone when you stop torturing yourself with shitty pick-up lines and repulsive fuckboys. At the risk of sounding like your mother (sorry), you’re in college to get an education. Let things fall into place around that and stop obsessing over whether or not you’ll be singing The Sound of Silence on the next Valentine’s Day. If you go about your business and be yourself, you’ll eventually cross paths with someone you will connect with on a deep level. My husband and I met freshman year but before you call pot & kettle on me, we had no intention of being in a relationship. We were actually best friends for a long time before our friendship blossomed into the rock-solid relationship we have now. Give it time and be patient.
5. Immediately Declaring A Major
Declaring a major early on can feel like having to hand-carve your entire life plan into the side of a mountain for the world to see. I remember experiencing the steep descent into depression when I realized I wasn’t 100% sold on my major. Let’s be real. You aren’t immediately supposed to know which major to pick – how could you? You can’t even experience what your university really has to offer until you’re halfway through your undergraduate anyway. Maybe you’ll find that what someone else is studying would be loads more fun than what you thought you wanted. Use your resources. Talk to friends, professors, advisors. You’re paying for their services. When you’re paying your student loans back, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you took full advantage of their advice.
Joining extracurriculars is really not that impactful on your career. You might feel obligated to join a few so you turn out to be well-rounded, but it’s really not necessary. Instead, put your effort into finding internships – something I never did that seemed to set my more successful friends apart from myself and I definitely regret it. If you’re going to join extracurriculars, don’t force yourself to join something you’re not 100% passionate about or else they’ll wind up becoming more of an obligatory commitment. Use them instead as an outlet to enjoy doing something you love to get a break from the everyday stressors of college life.
7. Feeling Overwhelmed By It All
I get it, believe me. I can’t tell you how many times I look like a fragile shard of glass that would shatter at the slightest addition of just one more worry. You absolutely HAVE to take a step back and breathe (to which your response might be, “ain’t nobody got time for that”). Ask yourself what would make you happiest right now? A cup of coffee? Tea? Playing video games? Once you figure out what it is, use it as a way to motivate yourself to get the high-priority things done and then use it as a reward. Boom. You’ve set yourself a short term goal and when you accomplish it, gold stars and good feels for daaayyyys. It only takes one small feat to kickstart the motivation snowball. Take some time to clean up your space, too. Clutter in your environment equals clutter in your mind. Seriously.
So when all of life’s shit is stressing you the hell out, treat yo’ self and fuck it. You’ve got this.