Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Girl taking selfie in wall mirror with art decorated around mirror.
Original photo by Gabriella Licona

The Life Survival Guide

Coming to college was a chaotic experience: I was traveling to another state, I was resolving family issues, I didn’t know anyone, and COVID made socializing difficult. I was still learning to be independent, and had to hit what felt like rock bottom multiple times before straightening myself out.

Thinking that my second year wouldn’t be as difficult was wrong on my part. Transitioning is always hard, whether it be to a completely new environment, or to a setting that demands you adjust to it even in the slightest form.

Hitting these rough transitions of fitting in and trying to balance everything is a process that you’ll find yourself stuck in more than once. We feel it by our junior year in high school, when “senioritis” hits, when we get to college, possibly every year of college, when we graduate, when we start our career, and so on. However, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to be stuck in that loop forever.

During these times of not knowing where to go and what to do next, there’s always the invitation to grow. While leaving a negative mindset of feeling trapped is hard, there is always a way to figure out how we can get our shit together. So, use this Life Survival Guide as many times as you need, no matter what the occasion/or situation may be.

Plan ahead

There is truth in the saying: there is nowhere else to look except forward. This applies to many aspects of our life. When we are presented with choices and make a decision, it’s common for us to think, “but what would’ve happened if I had gone with choice B instead of this one?” My one suggestion when it comes to this dilemma? Don’t linger on it.

We don’t make decisions in hopes of doing everything right and easily the first time. We have to make difficult choices that may take us in the wrong direction and hit a wall. We have to make choices that will make the road difficult. And we’re going to be forced to make decisions that will cause us to lose sleep, stress, and break our hearts. At the end of the day, making tough choices can only go three ways: we learn from them and we pick up where we left off and move on to better, we gain peace from letting go of what doesn’t benefit us, or we can stay in our comfort zones and never move up.

When we start listing goals for our future, we define them in our lives. You can dream about it, but if you don’t start putting those visuals into your reality by either verbally claiming it or physically working to it, it’s never going to present itself to you. Even writing small things to do in a planner like taking a shower is a baby step that has so much value.

When you start brainstorming and planning the way you want to live your life, you become more accustomed to working towards them and implementing a part of your everyday ritual. Every moment matters, and it’s always up to you to how you react and take action on them.

The healthy habits

Beginnings are beautiful and beginnings signify the start of something. That’s why starting new habits is usually something to look forward to and worth trying out. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made over and over again in my life was thinking that hyped-up “healthy” habits had to be following a strict diet, following a specifically instructed workout routine at the gym, and making my life 50% or more work-balanced with my social life.

Healthy habits are not the glorified habits people tell you on social media that are “good” for living a long life. While there is nothing wrong with fitting in an exercise routine or trying to stick with a diet that will help you cut on calories (as a matter of fact, if that’s something you want to try, go for it!), healthy habits are the ones we create to benefit us in our own personal life.


In times when I’m not motivated to do much, I write down positive ‘I am” affirmations on a post-it to stick on my candle and light it up (preferably cinnamon, apple cider, or vanilla-scented one). Saying these affirmations to myself while breathing in a scent that is calming and warm to me makes my body feel less heavy; a plus side is putting it on my desk while I start working or studying and feeling a little more encouraged to do so.

Another thing I do when I feel stressed or like I’m about to have a breakdown is let it out. Whether it be crying in bed, play some loud sad songs, or angrily writing down in my journal about what I’m feeling, I have to find a way to come to terms with what I’m feeling. As someone who easily gets emotional and tries my hardest to put up a facade of not caring too much, I had to apply my own love language to myself: give yourself the comfort, touch, and love that you crave from others. The day I started treating myself with care the way a mother does with their sick child is the day I understood how self-care really works.

Once I’ve overcome my emotions and allow myself to process my sadness or anger, I give myself my moment to shine. Your uplifting moment can be an encouraging pep talk, playing a boss bitch song, baking or playing music or creating art: whatever helps you get up on your feet is all that matters. Even the little things that people normalize, like taking a hot bath or shower, is better than not taking one at all. Practicing things for hygiene, pleasure, and a different lifestyle that makes us happy and satisfied are all healthy habits we need to give more credit to for trying.

Mirror what you believe

I have always been a visual learner, which is why I love to journal my feelings, why I take the time to create a bullet journal to plan my days ahead, and why I express myself with my clothing aesthetic. One way I remind myself of the things to look forward to and what I want to achieve, is by putting inspirational words around my mirror.

Every morning, I face my mirror right as soon as I get up from bed to do my makeup and get ready for the day. A part of being able to decide how I plan to take on the day based on my outfit is by being able to look at the encouraging words and affirmations on my wall. One of my favorite pieces of art that I have created and taped right next to my mirror, is a line art drawing of flowers blossoming from a woman’s face, with a quote about being gentle with myself.

From a reminder for the tough times to a short encouraging message from your best self, a mirror that reflects what we truly believe and are empowered to aim for goes a long way.

There is nothing worse than lingering in a spot that we know we don’t belong in. Get out and see the world. Start making new habits and discovering new things. Let go of what you know is toxic. Forgive yourself and others for what you can’t control or redo, and start a new slate.

There is nowhere to go except up once you’ve hit rock bottom; eventually, when you are ready, you’ll find a way to start surviving and living again.

RIT Communications student and Marketing/Publicity Director for Her Campus at RIT! Blogger, writer, and designer by day, latina and disability advocate by night. Blog: BeTheAesthetic.wordpress.com; art/designing account IG: @betheaesthetic
Similar Reads👯‍♀️