Obviously, being a college student is difficult. Between balancing classes, doing homework, studying, working and having a social life, college life can become extremely draining and overwhelming very quickly. Not to mention that most of us, as college students, are pretty broke. Many students have to work more than one job to make ends meet and, in my case, it is no different.
During my third semester at Southern I had to work four jobs in order to pay for school and car expenses, build my savings account and maybe go out with friends. My days began at 4:30 in the morning, with my first shift at one of my jobs starting at 5 a.m. I was exhausted and normally got only three hours of sleep since I had to stay up late doing homework. I was also taking 15 credits of classes after work each day. My only downtime was on Saturdays — one day wasn’t nearly enough for me to catch up on the sleep I was missing.
This semester is no different. I was afraid it might be just as draining and I might be just as tired as I was last semester. However, after some trial and error, I was able to develop some ways to cope with my busy schedule and sometimes even make me look forward to waking up every day.
1. Don’t try to do it all
It took me a while to admit it to myself, but sometimes you really can’t do it all, no matter how much you try. After attempting a full semester with a full course load and four jobs, I realized that it wouldn’t be healthy for me to continue on that way. That’s why before this semester started, I quit one of my jobs and decided to stick with the three that I could balance better. I still have that 5 a.m. shift. And although it sucks to wake up early, I can relax a bit more knowing that I made the right decision in admitting my weaknesses and taking a step back from what is not healthy for me to do anymore.
2. Romanticize everything
This may sound dumb, but this is the best coping mechanism I have so far. After I get off my first shift, I go back to my room and wear what makes me feel like myself. I cook a healthy breakfast while listening to classical music, and I pretend that I’m a cool girl in a movie chasing after her dreams and starting her day, because who’s to say that’s not exactly who I am and what I’m doing? Throughout my day, I romanticize the little things along the way — getting coffee, driving, spending time with friends, small talk with strangers and especially studying. I find that, for me personally, it makes everything feel a little bit lighter.
3. Make time for yourself
I always make sure to set Saturday aside to fully rest before I begin the week again. I turn all of my alarms off, sleep as much as I want and don’t do anything that feels like work even in the slightest. Although it may be difficult to separate a full day for yourself, it’s a necessity to find some time for yourself in one way or another. Throughout the week, I also make sure I have at least 30 minutes to myself in a day — whether I’m working out or sitting in my room watching Netflix. This alone time is absolutely vital to balancing everything you have on your plate. It’s your time to recharge on your own, momentarily putting all worries aside.
4. Have a support system
Whether you need someone to talk to, or just someone to hang out with while doing nothing in particular, a support system will carry you through the semester when nothing else will. Having people that you love and who love you in return makes the weight of our lives feel less like a burden and more like something we are happy for. I try to make plans with friends ahead of time whenever possible, so when I wake up in the morning I have at least one thing to look forward to that day.
5. Remember that education is a privilege
As college students, we’re currently in a position that many other young people our age will never be in. Getting an education these days does not come easily, whether that’s due to financial or personal reasons. When I don’t want to go to work, I remember, “Hey, at least I have a job and a way to make money.” When I don’t want to go to class, I remember, “At least I’m in school and am pursuing a higher education. I have the ability to do these things when many others don’t, and that’s something to recognize and be grateful for. ”Overall, college isn’t easy. But then again, I don’t think any of us ever expected it to be. I’m here, and I want to be here. So, I’m going to do my best to make it all work to the best of my ability. After all, that’s all that we can really do: our best. And that’s more than enough.