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To the Overachieving College Student

I once was in your shoes: I kept the near-perfect GPA, led multiple student organizations, held a part-time job, worked tireless hours on research, and almost never missed an obligation. As conscientious as I was in my academic and resume-building pursuits, I never made the time to reflect on my accomplishments or listen to my own needs and desires. I went to class when I couldn’t talk. I pushed through every medical or mental health issue that plagued me so I could be early for my classes. I not only neglected my health but also my social life, sleep, developmental milestones, and actual passions. I even did not allow time to reflect on what I had learned. I ended up with no motivation, declining health, a diminishing number of friends, and an inevitable case of burnout. Now, I have done a bit of reflecting and am listening to my mind and body. After careful thought, I came up with a few pieces of advice so you, dear reader, can avoid this situation yourself. This is the list of advice:

1.     To those who thrive on validation and praise

Save every nice comment and compliment from others in a folder to review back on.

2.     To those who want to remember the good moments

Write them down in a notebook and journal. Any time someone makes you smile from ear to ear, write it down. If you are having an amazing day, write it down. Basically, any time you are genuinely happy, write it down.  Whenever you are having a thunderstorm of a day, you can look back on the days of sunshine.

3.     To those in need of more hours in a day

There are 24 hours on a given day. 8 of them should be nurtured by sleeping. The other 16 should be made up of your obligations, passions, and listening to what you need to nourish your well-being. Rest is not a privilege; it is a need. . When making time for rest and recovery, you are allowing yourself to be more fully present and ready for all of the challenges of the day.

4.     To those with a hankering for caffeine

Coffee and energy drinks are not your best friends. They are ruthless enablers. They keep you from rest, cause a dependency, and the cost will drill a hole in your wallet. Switching to decaf, trying herbal tea, or acclimating yourself to more water can do wonders.

5.     To those who are workaholics

When you graduate, your academic accomplishments are valid and amazing, but your fixed comfort zone, lack of social skills, and below-average emotional intelligence will hinder self-growth and job prospects. Join organizations that make you happy or have the potential to be outside your bubble. Go to campus events. Join a sport if you want to and are able. Learn how to handle new experiences and meet new people.  Plus, it is also a crucial networking opportunity.

6.     To those who forget to nurture their health

Regular checkups with your primary care physician aren’t just a recommendation you can ignore. Make time for your health. You don’t need to be on a first-name basis but checking in with your doctor helps. If you don’t, the illness will catch up to you, and an illness will take up more time than if you scheduled regular appointments. You are not invincible!

7.     To those who schedule their every minute

As long as you’re doing it correctly with your well-being as the main priority, you do not need to stop this entirely. Try to make sure it is flexible for any surprise occasion or mood that could pop up. Schedule time for therapy, meditation, journaling, medication, reading anything, watching TV, walking outside, admiring nature, playing video games, or any task that is good for your well-being and peace of mind. The only two important things to remember is that these aforementioned scheduled activities cannot be for productivity. you must be willing to make time to reflect on your day, choices, and future plans. Change them proactively if your well-being demands.

8.     To those who never ask for help

Your campus is full of career services, tutors, writing centers, math centers, professors/instructors with office hours, teacher’s assistants, Resident Assistants, psychiatric services, support groups, mentors, and other people who are there for you. Thinking you can do everything yourself or being too afraid to ask is only going to stunt your education and your needs. Using every campus resource while you have the privilege of doing so is a wise decision. You pay for all the resources with your tuition; you might as well try each one out as needed. Lifelong friends, priceless mentors, and blossoming career decisions can be found on your campus.

9.     To those in which my advice comes too late

Know you are not alone in the burn-out. Give yourself time and rest. Take personality and career quizzes to figure yourself out. Re-explore what you were passionate about in your childhood years. Do anything that can bring the tiniest hint of happy nostalgia. See a psychologist if you need more tips to pull yourself away from the flames and consider following the tips above to dust off the remaining ashes. It isn’t hopeless and you are never helpless. This feeling will pass.

Taylor is a Michigan native who loves all things pop culture, queer, and sociopolitical. Her favorite season is Gilmore Girl's autumn, and she is a tireless advocate of curling up to read with a cup of hot chocolate. Taylor will defend campy sapphic media any day over anything written by Nicholas Sparks or Hallmark. As a social psychology major, to her the culture of a society is personal.
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