I’m not going to be the first one to tell you this, but college is stressful. They say – who “they” are, I’m not sure, but that’s not the point – that the key to a happy and successful life in college is balance. I can agree with that, but I would also like to make a point of my own. Bear with me while I share a story with you.
In the spring semester of 2015, I made a major change in my routine that included visiting the wellness complex four mornings during the week and eating a high-protein, low-carb diet.
This routine was tough to break into, but I think I caught on pretty quickly. I saw results faster than I ever could have imagined. I was becoming more satisfied with how I looked, and I was proud of myself.
As quickly as I incorporated these gym visits and new eating habits, my ability to maintain both seemed to fade just as quickly.
As the semester wore on, my trips to the gym became fewer, though I tried a bit harder to stick to the food plan. I could feel the pounds I had lost piling back on, and then some.
When summer session came, everything I had learned the semester prior had been thrown out the window. As badly as I wanted to get back into the habit, it was like the universe was against me: the gym was only open from 6 am to 6 pm. WI had class Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6:30, which meant my time at the gym was limited to morning sessions only, which I wouldn’t have minded if it didn’t mean that I had to be at the gym as soon as it opened to ensure I could get to my practicum in Holyoke for 9 am.
I struggled all summer, for a number of reasons, and even though all of the struggles were important, they also all were difficult to focus on for more than a few minutes at a time.
For this semester, I am a full-time graduate student with a full-time job, a graduate assistant, and I also contributes occasional pieces to the student newspaper as well as is performing in this year’s production of the Vagina Monologues. Oh, and I’m also a full-time human being, which is apparently also important to point out (at least according to my counselor at the Springfield College Counseling Center… You know who you are).
This year, I started to struggle with the fact that I wasn’t going to the gym at all and my eating habits were back to being pretty terrible. While I was learning about person-centered theory of counseling and about how to help people with disabilities retain employment in the classroom, I was also learning to give myself a break outside of the classroom. With everything else I have going on, yeah, I would totally love to be able to fit a workout in every day. But would that work for me? Not really. Adding a workout to my day would make me lose an hour or two of sleep a night, and as much sleep as possible is pretty important when working and going to school.
It may sound sucky for me to say that my health can wait, and you may even disagree with me for saying it, but let me explain. Almost everything I have committed myself to this year is only temporary: grad school and my graduate assistant position will be done in May, the Monologues are performed in February, and the newspaper publishes its last issue just before classes conclude. The only thing I’ve committed to that isn’t temporary? Being a full-time human being. Take care of yourself.
My point is, life is busy when you’re in college. If you’re like me and you like being busy with activities and events, then do those things, but I also want to stress that you don’t need to feel guilty over giving up something you think you may have enjoyed. You have permission to give certain things more or less priority over other things; it’s okay. You’re only human, and though humans are capable of a hell of a lot, we’re not capable of everything.