ENTER: A Blur careening around a tiny dorm room. The Blur is holding a pair of black Vans and hopping while pulling on an inside-out sock. The Blur manages to get the sock on and suddenly catches sight of the clock, which is flashing the time of 9:05 AM in unforgiving green LEDs. The Blur picks up speed and runs into the corner of the bed, taking the hit squarely in the ribs. The Blur yells an obscenity and then rushes to grab a backpack, a water bottle, keys, and a mask, oblivious to the fact that their laptop remains on the cluttered desk. The Blur runs out the door, remembering to lock it out of pure luck, and promptly trips over their untied shoes in the hallway.
It’s me. I’m the Blur.
And this is an entirely accurate account of a Thursday morning at the beginning of this semester. In fact, if you change the time on the clock, this could be me at any time I had to leave my dorm in the morning.
It’s not that I can’t plan or that I am unreliable, but instead, the larger issue is that I don’t do anything on purpose. I wake up as late as possible for my classes and then sprint through a haphazard morning routine to make it there on time, not allowing myself a single moment of relaxation from the time I drag myself out from under the covers.
It’s a system that doesn’t work — and hasn’t worked, but I have continued to live this way because it is easier. It takes no forethought to waste time, just like it takes no effort to ignore my pile of dirty laundry or the unmade bed in the corner.
I would love to describe myself as someone who has their life together, and on some level, I do. I excel in my classes, I have a job, I am involved in clubs on campus, and I have a loving and supportive friend group. But I also have ignored the personal care side of my life for a while and have neglected to take care of myself mentally.
So, over the last month, I have been trying to fix this and live with intention. I want my actions to have purpose and to make my well-being a priority because I’ve realized that if I don’t put effort into my mental well-being, no one else will. I started with the small things, promises I thought I could keep. This included keeping my Brita pitcher full and making my bed more days than not. I rearranged the furniture that I had kept running into in my tiny dorm and hung up pictures of the people and places I love most. I hung up lights and tried to make my space on campus feel like a genuine home. They were all small changes, but I think they add up to something greater.
From here I have to keep working to take care of myself mentally. I take more walks around campus and find small spots to sit and watch the leaves blow in the wind. I sit on the bench outside the Honors College building on Tuesdays and listen to the birds sing above me. I open my windows and let the crisp autumn air in, allowing myself to inhale fall and exhale the stress weighing me down. I started waking up a little earlier to watch the sun rise through my window and sip on hot coffee in my pajamas.
College is an incredibly stressful time and many of us have extremely demanding schedules. I find that most students I know do not take time for themselves and are pulling themselves through the days, constantly saying, “I just need to get through this week.” Personally, sophomore year isn’t a super convenient time for me to suffer from extreme academic burnout. I know that I have to find ways to love life in between the stressful moments. Every piece of media we consume tells us that college is meant to be the best years of our lives, so I’m going to give the next few years a fighting chance and move my well-being off the back burner. I am becoming happier, bit by bit, and I am living with intention.