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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Before an airplane lifts off, a flight attendant always goes through the safety manual. They tell passengers what to do in case of an emergency, and instruct passengers to place their own oxygen masks on before helping to place someone else’s on. This may seem like it only applies to air travel, but the real lesson is that you have to make sure you are okay before you help others. This is an especially important lesson to learn in college when we are all meeting so many people all the time. Every single one of us deserves to be happy. While we should help others as much as we can, we should not make ourselves unhappy to help others. 

Some people embody being selfless to the utmost level. With most things, even something as good as selflessness, there is an extreme. Your life is yours to live and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s. Every college student is trying to figure out who they are in the face of new responsibilities. This can take the form of learning what you want from friends, figuring out a career, deciding where to live, and learning how to be independent. It is unsustainable to constantly put ourselves behind everyone else in our lives because, sooner or later, we will not be helping anyone. In college, many students have to learn hard truths and one of them is that we can’t help others in every single way while we are also figuring these things out for ourselves.

As we enter a new school year, here are four ways to make sure you take care of yourself:

1. Remember that “Go Big or Go Home” Is Not the Only Way

There are big decisions and then there are smaller ones that are not as visible. When we come into a new school year, many students encounter new expectations that are associated with growing into their young adult selves. We can feel pulled in many directions but it is important to remember that sometimes it’s the thought that counts. For example, when a new friend’s birthday comes up, a lot of people want to show that they care about them by throwing a big birthday party. However, letting someone know you care can take many forms. A card can convey that you care about this person just as much as a party would and it is something that person can always have with them. 

2. don’t tire yourself out

Grand acts of service may be more visible, but small acts can be more sustainable because there can be more of them happening often. Smaller acts of kindness can add up and become something bigger than something that happens once in a while. With every dynamic, you have to meet the other person halfway. So don’t try to do more than you can, whether that be with a new friend, a new club or a new living situation. All of us on campus are just trying to figure things out, which means that we all can take things as slowly as we need to. 

3. have a routine for morning or night

We should all have something in our day that makes us excited. Maybe that’s plans with friends or a class we really like, but something that I’ve always thought is helpful is a routine. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate but it can be something that stays the same for you. As college students, coffee is always around. So if you have later classes or are an early riser, perhaps getting coffee plus your favorite pastry can be a grounding point in your day. Or if you are a night person, maybe dancing alone in your room for 10 minutes can be your routine. Either way, a routine can give you some more control during the turbulent time known as college. Your routine should be made by you and for you.

4. remember that you deserve to be cared for

Through many conversations, I’ve observed that young adults value the smaller moments that were more impactful on them than something grander in scale which is sometimes misconstrued as more important. And though we know that, we all sometimes think less of ourselves for not doing an act of service that is labeled as epic and brave. No one is a bad person for taking care of themselves and making certain decisions that help them. We do not live for only other people; we have to live for ourselves. 

Overall, everyone has to live with themselves and so humans need to take care of themselves, too. We are our own first and best protector. No one will think about you as much as you think about yourself. In college, we should learn how to interact with others but we should also learn how to interact with the truth of who we need to be for ourselves. And that truth is not selfish but rather about finding balance.

Haley Morrill

UC Berkeley '25

Haley is a 3rd year at UC Berkeley, who is an art major. She loves to write about the arts, culture, and more! When Haley is not studying, you can find her going to art museums, trying every version of a mocha, or making art. She is very excited to continue with the Her Campus team and is looking forward to the year ahead.