My senior year of high school, sitting at the kitchen table, I paged through a Miami brochure. A student quote caught my attention.
I don't remember the exact words, but the soon-to-be-graduate talked about how special it was to live within a few-mile radius from all her best friends, and how much she was going to miss it. That hit me.
College is full of countless activities, many of them involving other people: maintaining Snapchat streaks with your best friends. Scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. Going uptown for Bagel & Deli. Waiting in line at Brick. Club meetings. Classes. Group projects. Constant socialization. You get the point.
This can be really great. It can also be draining.
Being around other people all the time definitely has its benefits. If you're anxious about midterms or friend drama, it helps to talk to someone.
It's pretty safe to say we've all struggled with juggling our individual to-do lists. Stress inevitably walks hand in hand with school.
It took me until second semester to realize that it's okay to put myself first and spend some time alone. Often, it feels like there's constant pressure to be doing something with someone but there's nothing wrong with saying no.
The college lifestyle can be overwhelming. It doesn't take me too long to recall a time I was drowning in a sea of unfinished tasks.
For me, Tuesdays supply a continual source of stress. With four classes back-to-back, by the time 4:10 p.m. rolls around, I typically have a headache.
It'd be nice to go home and sleep, but homework and studying relentlessly vie for my attention.
And every week, I decide the same thing -- they can wait half an hour.
On Tuesdays, my friend Kylie and I leave English class, where we analyze rhetorical strategies and discuss the complex characterization and the historical context of books like "Frankenstein."
In dire need of a mental break and junk food, we head to Armstrong and order mozzarella sticks from Pulley.
Our backpacks stay zipped for a half an hour, and we just talk. If there's not too much homework awaiting us, we watch Vine compilations.
Hanging out at Pulley motivates me through those taxing Tuesdays, and by some unknown mozzarella stick magical power, my headache disappears.
By the time I return to my dorm after dinner, it's 8 p.m. I leave my room at 9:30 a.m. -- that's more than 10 hours on the go.
I've also spent the entire day surrounded by and engaging with other people. Admittedly, I do love being busy, but there's a limit to what I can handle.
My Wednesdays are much more relaxed, with fewer classes and more time to myself.
We all deserve days like that.
Living a few-mile radius away from my best friends isn't something I take for granted. It's probably my favorite part of college, but that doesn't mean managing everything is always easy.
Classes, appointments, lunches, working out and meetings always crowd the organizational blessing that is Google Calendar, but time for myself has never found its way onto the agenda.
Recently I've discovered that to enjoy a balanced college experience, it needs to.
Watching a Netflix episode, for example, provides a necessary mental break; just try not to let that one episode turn into an entire season. (This behavior defines procrastination, but that's another story).
Setting aside me-time was challenging at first because I had no way to hold myself accountable. Second semester, I found the solution.
Now, three times a week, a new event happily glows purple from my Google Calendar called "Emily hour." By purposefully scheduling time just for me, I force myself to put school aside for just an hour and relax.
I'd suggest taking a minute to do the same on your calendar. (Unless your name happens to be Emily too; in that case, maybe call it something else).