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Mental Health

4 Things to Remember at the Start of the Semester

Forget Sunday scaries; the start-of-the-semester scaries are so much worse. These scaries start to loom and interrupt our peaceful winter break during the last week. They creep into the shopping weeks as we anxiously await enrollment emails and determine which classes we’re dropping. These scaries can linger throughout the semester, though, if you don’t start fresh and keep sight of what’s important — read on for the things you need to remember.

Your past does not define you.

Regardless of how you did last semester, you can still crush this semester. If you’re not happy with how you did in the fall, then leave the past where it belongs — behind you. You can only go forward, so use the past to learn from without dwelling on it. Don’t get mad at yourself for things you can’t change and instead focus on how you can try to do better this semester. You’re not perfect, and this university is a hard one, so be proud of yourself and keep progressing on. Shake off the past grades and start fresh, with new good habits and the positive mindset that you can do this (because I know you can).

You are so much more than your grades.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that grades are all that matters and that they determine who you are. After all, as students, grades seem to be everything. Before the semester gets crazy, make sure you remember that life is about so much more than grades. A bad grade does not define you, make you a failure, or make you any less of a person. Grades are just numbers that, unfortunately, don’t often reflect our actual capabilities. You are incredibly intelligent and so many other things that exist outside the realm of grades and GPAs. Although grades are important, they’re not important enough for you to feel bad about yourself or stop living your life. Go to dinner with your friend. Stay up late watching a rom-com. Call your mom. Don’t let grades give you tunnel vision.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Zen Shin

As the semester ramps up, keep your focus where it belongs — on you. Don’t worry yourself with how anyone else is doing, because they’re not you and it doesn’t matter. If you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense to compare yourself to anyone else because we’re all different, in unique situations that can’t be logically compared. So don’t try. It’s harmful to you. The only person you need to compare yourself to is your past self, so you can be proud of your progress and keep moving forward.

The future is bright.

Each semester is always a rollercoaster of ups and downs, so during the downs remember that the future is bright. How this semester goes does not determine how the next will go — there is always the chance for change and redemption. There are more semesters to come, and there is life beyond college. So no matter how devastating a bad grade might seem, I can promise you that you won’t remember that grade in a couple of years. Your future is so much brighter than the downs you might experience during the semester. Your hard work, sleepless nights, and having cereal for dinner during finals season will all be worth it.

Make these four statements things you never forget throughout the semester. Write them on sticky notes and put them on your mirror. Or just reference back to this article. Do whatever you have to do so that you don’t forget, regardless of what happens during the semester. That being said, you are going to do amazing — I believe in you and am cheering you on! (The below image will be you sooner than you think.)

Arianna Antigone

Columbia Barnard '22

Arianna loves New York City, binging Netflix, and pasta. She's an English major and a future lawyer. If you need her, you can find her sipping her third iced coffee of the day and gushing over Harry Styles or talking about her law school ambitions.
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