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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 UCSD chapter.

Just over a year ago, I had no idea what I was truly passionate about or where my future was going. It was hard for me to even get out of bed some days as each day felt pretty similar to the next. Everything just seemed too overwhelming, and even when things seemed like they could be exciting, I would just give up and not follow through. I was not happy with myself, and,  although I have always been somewhat independent, I felt like most of the things I did were for the purpose of pleasing others rather than the purpose of doing what I wanted. I would use avoidance as a coping mechanism and shut myself out from the world. It took almost failing out of school for me to come to the realization that at the end of the day, this was my life, and I was the only person who could change things by focusing on myself. While I feel like it is hard to stay away from peer pressure and partake in the stereotypical “college experience,” I know that living the quieter and overall more peaceful life that I live today is what will help me continue to succeed.  

Focusing on yourself can look different for everyone. For me, it started with finding myself and what made me excited each day when I woke up, all while making sure I incorporated self care strategies to set me up for success. I wanted to share a little bit about my journey, in addition to pointing out what has been most beneficial to getting to the point I am in my life today.

  1. Figure out what you enjoy doing and what you are truly passionate about by starting off slowly.
  • To prevent myself from failing out of school without taking time off to finish the incompletes I ended up taking, I decided to become a part time student. Furthermore, I chose to take one of my two classes as Pass/No Pass. I knew that this would give me a lot of free time to start exploring what I wanted to do with my life. I started going to the Zone, which is my school’s wellness lounge, and found myself engaged in the many stress-relieving activities that they hosted. This led me to realize how passionate I am about mental health advocacy. I loved being there so much that I applied to be a Well-Being Peer Educator so I could volunteer there and help plan activities during this school year. Furthermore, I started out as a writer for Her Campus, which led me to the opportunity to be on the board of the organization this year. This position led me to have exposure to marketing and public relations work, giving me a path to looking at careers I want to do after I graduate.
  1. Incorporate a self-care routine that you can stick to.
  • This has been vital throughout my journey, especially as I have taken on more responsibilities. One thing I have done consistently is taking walks or working out daily, even if it is for a short amount of time. I have found that exercising in nature (especially a beach hike or jog) has been incredibly beneficial for my well-being, but I still love going to the gym as well. Doing this with good music or talking on the phone with a friend or family member makes this even more enjoyable.
  1. Build a basic plan or roadmap for your life by setting goals and milestones, but keep an open mind about things changing.
  • My life did not turn out exactly like the life plan I created for myself a year ago, but the goals and milestones I have created along the way have helped me whenever I felt like things were becoming too overwhelming or when I  started panicking. It is so important to break things up, especially if they are things that require a lot of time and effort to achieve. One thing I have done is make a checklist each day to maximize getting things done. While I still struggle to live in the moment and take things day by day, I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason.  As long as you are progressing a little each day rather than stopping everything, life has a way of working itself out.
  1. Learn to be comfortable being alone and be happy being by yourself.
  • At the end of the day, you are the only one who can determine your own happiness. I had to learn how to love being alone and feel comfortable doing a lot of things that were difficult for me to do by myself. It was really hard, but not basing my happiness solely off of other people has been life-changing. I realized that in order to do some of my favorite things, I had to learn how to say no to things I could not handle to prioritize the plans I had made for myself. However, this does not mean in any way that you should isolate yourself completely. I have gone through periods of time when I did this, and I cannot emphasize how much harder it was for me to find the motivation to hang out with my friends or go to social events without a severe amount of social anxiety.
  1. Maintain a balance in life – sticking to things you know work for you but not being afraid to go out of your comfort zone. 
  • I know everyone says this, but it is true. I definitely have a “Type A” personality and want everything I do to be perfect. While it is good to keep busy and work towards achieving your goals, life does not always have to be so serious. Going to large social gatherings definitely is something that makes me really anxious, but the more I push myself to go, the easier it has become. It has been what has helped me meet new people, learn about exciting opportunities, and build my network. 
  1. Have people in your life that allow you to follow your dreams on your own, but who will also always be there for you.
  • I am so fortunate to have people in my life who have helped me grow as a person and who have been my cheerleaders throughout my journey. I really look up to my friends and family, as they serve as my role models. These are the people that are proud of what I am doing. Even though I have done a lot of what I have mentioned above on my own, I would not have been able to experience as much self growth without them. Having people in my life that showed me that I could live my own life while still making time for them without being codependent has been so important (if you are one of these people reading this article now, you know who you are and I just want to thank you for everything).
Tessa Scharff is a fourth year at UCSD studying Communication. She was born in raised in Los Angeles and is super thrilled to serve as both a writer and as the Marketing Co-Director of HerCampus this school year. In her free time, Tessa enjoys hanging out with her friends, working out at the gym, and exploring new places. Tessa plans on studying abroad this upcoming fall in Florence, Italy.