Of Mental Breakdowns and Time Management

Well.

It’s that time of year again. The point in the semester where everything feels like it’s building up and preparing to squash you like a bug. And, to be honest, it probably is.

Midterm.

Ugh.

Not only does this mark the point where you actually take your midterms, but it also means that you’re halfway through the semester. Halfway to finals, which can make or break you.

If you’re not careful, this time of year will drown you. It will eat you alive and then spit you back out with stresses that you didn’t even know you had. It’s that point during school where every professor seems to be assigning extra homework, papers, and projects at exactly that same time. Personally, I’m about ready to crawl under a rock and hibernate until Thanksgiving Break.

Realistically, however, that is not exactly an option. So, here are some tricks for surviving the semester without your mind spectacularly exploding.

Tip #1: Breathe.

Before you start any paper or assignment, take a deep breath. If you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a minute to just inhale and exhale until your heart rate goes back to normal and you feel some semblance of calm.

You’re not going to get anything productive done if you spend the entire time worrying and convincing yourself that whatever you come up with won’t be any good. You can do this. You just have to take it one step at a time.

Tip #2: Stay ahead.

Try to make time for your homework the day before it’s due. Finishing things early keeps a load of stress off your back and allows you a little bit of time to relax before class instead of hastily answering those last few questions.

Tip #3: Time Management is crucial.

College isn’t just about keeping up with your assignments. It’s about knowing when you have exams, quizzes, or papers due. It is about being able to plan your time in a way that you have a little bit of breathing room for if a commitment or activity goes longer than you thought it would. When you have everything you need to do laid out in front of you, whether in a calendar, planner, or online scheduling app, it takes a load off your shoulders because you can physically see what you need to do.

This allows you to stay on track much more easily than if you were just trying to remember everything.

Fun fact: Today in Psych, we talked about how the brain can actually only remember 4-7 bits of information at a time.

Tip #4: Take a break.

While it’s important to get everything done in a timely manner, it’s also just as important to give yourself a break when you need it. Don’t be afraid to plan out time for a Netflix episode or an hour of video games. It’s okay to do something completely pointless to get your mind to stop working so hard. Even the smartest of us need a break sometimes.

It doesn’t make you any less intelligent or any less capable because you took a few minutes between Math homework and your English essay to fangirl over the new Gilmore Girls trailer or to go on a short nature walk.

As long as the ratio of productivity to breaks leans more towards the former, it’s okay to take a breather. Your mind works a lot better when it has time to rest.

Tip #5: Get a good night’s sleep.

Yes, you’re in college, the time of adventuring and late nights. But adventures can happen during daylight too. Staying up til 3am seems like a great idea until your alarm goes off for class the following morning. Stay up on the weekends if you really want to, but try to get a decent amount of sleep on school nights. When you are awake and alert, your mind is more likely to retain information that you learn during class.

Bottom Line

College is tough. It will make you want to pull your hair out, especially during these midterm months. But if you stay focused, get enough sleep, and allow yourself some downtime, you should survive fully intact and no longer on the edge of a mental breakdown.

When you feel like crying, look up dumb puns on the internet or YouTube videos of cats. I promise that the semester isn’t as hard as you think it is. You aren’t actually drowning. It just feels like it right now.

You are smart and successful and you can do this. 🙂

Once Upon A Time…

I like fairy tales. I like them a lot. I’m a total sucker for happily-ever-afters and Prince Charming and glass slippers. And I like to think that everyone is living a fairy tale, whether they know or not.

I mean, think about it. Fairy tales aren’t just about the romance. They’re not just about kissing the right guy at midnight or turning frogs into princes. They’re about finding yourself and getting your happy ending because no one is going to go out and get it for you.

Look at Cinderella. Her life started out pretty horrible. She lost her dad and ended up with a stepmom who couldn’t care less about her. She was basically stuck in a life of abuse and neglect. She was in an absolutely horrible situation, but she refused to have a horrible attitude. She was kind and sweet and caring and never stopped dreaming. Obviously, having a fairy god-mother helped move things along, but Cinderella was the one that decided to go out there and make her dreams come true by attending the ball. She went out and danced her heart away until the clock struck midnight. She fell in love and fought with all of her heart to find her Prince Charming.

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How many of us have lost a family member? How many of us have had that friend that gives us the push we need in the right direction to fight for what we want?

And what about Elsa? One of the most recent Disney movies, taken from a tale by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen tells the story of the Ice Queen. After gravely injuring her sister  Anna as a child, Elsa takes her powers over ice and hides them under gloves and layers until she becomes Queen after her parents pass away tragically. Though Elsa wraps herself in shields of aloofness and coldness, it is clear that she misses her sister just as much as Anna misses her. She hides herself in her room for years, terrified that she will cause hurt to someone she loves unconditionally.

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How many of us have had something that we are ashamed of that keeps us from relationships or even just friendships? So many people have done things that they regret and feel ashamed of that make them shy away from comfort and people. The fear of the past prevents an astounding number of individuals from moving on to the future.

This happened in the case of Elsa, though she eventually learned to “let it go” and just be herself. We can take the mistakes in our past and turn them into lessons. No one is perfect and we can’t expect to never mess up. The best we can do is apologize to the people we hurt and try to find a way to fix it.

My personal favorite fairy tale is the story of Alice in Wonderland. As most people know, this is not a typical fairy tale by any means. Some may not even call it one. I do, however. I love it because Alice is just a child driven by curiosity and wonder. She isn’t thinking about romance or love. She just sees a rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch and wants to know where it is going. Obviously, she follows the rabbit and falls down the rabbit hole, finding herself in a new and strange world when she lands at the bottom. After experiencing a flood of her own tears, a tea party, and a trial, not to mention her almost execution, Alice is woken up by her sister, revealing that the entire story was a curious dream.

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Whether you look at the story as a dream or not, we can all relate to Alice’s struggles. Her curiosity leads to her to new friends and a new place, but also gets her into trouble when she isn’t careful. We should never stop being curious, but we should always be careful to appreciate what we already have.

Fairy tales are full of morals and lessons, but if you look closely enough, you might find more of yourself than you thought in Ariel, Aladdin, or the Mad Hatter. Our lives are already fairy tales. We just have to treat them as such.

 

12 Common Misconceptions About Dating

Most people think that once they hit sixteen or seventeen, Cupid is just going to shoot an arrow at their chest and boom! Love. But that’s not how it works. It’s actually a lot more complicated and a lot harder than it looks in romantic comedies.

I started dating when I was in middle school. Well, to be honest, I had a boyfriend in 4th grade. His name was Eric. And then he moved to Florida and conveniently forgot to inform me of this. Go figure. But anyways, I’m not going to count that.

And I’m going off topic. This post is not about my dating history, though there are some pretty entertaining stories about relationships I’ve had. Maybe next time. This post is about dating, love, and some common misconceptions of it that I’ve debunked in my 19 years. So here we go!

1) Love at first sight is not a thing. You can be attracted to someone at first sight and you can be interested at first sight. But love doesn’t happen instantaneously. Love at first sight doesn’t exist, as hard as that is to hear. Lust at first sight does not equal love.

2) Things don’t magically fall into place. There’s not some sort of change that happens after you turn sixteen that makes all the boys you know start asking you on dates. Sixteen is just a number. Yeah, sometimes you get lucky and a guy will ask you out and things will go great. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you just have to be really really patient.

3) One date does not equal a relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this. Most of my relationships started before an actual date was had. But that’s not how it should be. Dating is about finding out what you want in the person you’ll have a future with. It is about getting to know one another before slapping a label on it and calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.

4) It’s okay to text the guy first or ask him out. My mom always told me that it was the guy’s job to make the first move. And, yeah, that’s chivalrous and everything…but guys can get shy too. Guys aren’t perfect and sometimes they’re going to get nervous and over analyze and convince themselves that you’re just not that into them, even though you totally are. And texting someone first all the time gets boring and kills your self-esteem.

5) On the same lines, don’t always make him pay. I mean, it’s great that they can support you and take you out to dinner, but I guarantee you that it’ll make him smile if you pay for a milkshake every once in a while. One of my favorite traditions with Brendan was going to Sheetz and buying a thing of fries and a smoothie for us to split. That was always my thing to pay for. And I loved it.

6) Dates don’t have to cost a huge amount of money. Go on a scavenger hunt. Have a picnic in the park. Go for a walk and take pictures. Find a movie on netflix and cuddle. Paint twister. Drive until you find something to explore. There are so many things that you can have a blast doing without spending a ton of cash.

7) Don’t take the other person for granted. Dating shouldn’t just be fun in the beginning. It doesn’t matter how long you date someone for, you should always be excited to find out something new about them. Don’t stop asking them their favorite color or song or movie because people change all the time. Part of being in a relationship is constantly getting to know the other person. One of my very favorite things to do when I’m starting to really like someone is play the question game. It’s a great way to learn about each other without the pressure.

8) Love isn’t perfect. And neither are relationships. You might meet someone who you think is perfect for you. And sometimes, it turns out that they aren’t. That is a really painful process, but you have to let go. It’s okay to say goodbye to people who don’t make you happy anymore. It’s okay to stop having feelings for someone. It doesn’t make you a bad person. We’re human and humans make mistakes and change their minds.

9) Fighting in relationships is healthy. I’m not talking about fighting over every little thing and screaming down each other’s throats. I’m talking about actually talking about your problems. If you want a real relationship, you have to deal with real problems. And they won’t just go away if you avoid them. Nothing kills relationships faster than problems that you didn’t know were there. You aren’t going to agree on everything. People aren’t the same. Eventually, your opinions or desires will clash and you’ll have to deal with that.

10) It’s not all about personality. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you aren’t physically attracted to the person you’re dating. The fact is, you don’t notice someone’s personality first most of the time. Your first impression is almost always physical. You like their smile or think they have pretty eyes or think they have achieved male model status. Physical attractiveness might not be the most important thing in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. I’m going to be perfectly honest here and embarrass myself (and probably Brendan). The first thing I noticed about him was his abs. The second thing I noticed was his sweet spirit. So, yes, physical attributes do make a difference. Just don’t base a relationship on the fact that someone is handsome or pretty.

11) Don’t be so picky. First impressions aren’t always right and your mom isn’t always wrong when she tells you to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Again, we’re human and humans make mistakes. You might meet someone and base your impression of them on a day where they just got horrible news or had a bad experience. If you go into dating expecting to find perfection, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, you can find the perfect person for you. But they aren’t always perfect when you first meet them. And sometimes the person you are meant to be with is right in front of you and you just never realized it because you already labeled them as something else.

12) Stop stressing over every little thing. Dating is supposed to be fun. Healthy relationships aren’t about finding things to worry about. You shouldn’t look for something to fight over. You marry who you date and you should want to marry someone that makes you happy. Stop letting your fear control you and just feel what you feel. There will be problems; every relationship has them. But don’t let them destroy something beautiful. Don’t make up problems because you get scared. It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to want something to work out with everything you have. But if you overthink and over analyze, you’ll end up destroying it before it even has a chance to turn into something real.