The Start of Something New

The start of a new semester is the perfect time to reflect and evaluate the positive and negative aspects of your previous semester. 

My first semester at NC State turned out to be quite a tough transition. The amount of unfamiliarity in my everyday environment and the element of the unknown took a toll on my mental health. I later realized I was spending the majority of my time focusing on class assignments and studying for tests while only occasionally allowing time for fun. By not making socializing and breaks from work a priority, I spent most nights in my room getting a week or two ahead on assignments.

In the blink of an eye, the semester was over. 

Reflecting on my first semester over winter break led me to the decision that I wanted to take on my next semester in a different way. I realized that life is about way more than just making a perfect grade in every class (Good grades are important, but they should never become an obsession). I started pondering different ways I could bring more happiness into my everyday life. I came to the conclusion that starting small would be my best option and eventually came up with an action plan. This plan included the implementation of small, manageable breaks in the form of different activities. These breaks would provide me with a much needed mental break while also affording me more time to work on my hobbies. I noticed myself getting excited from the mere thought of finding more creative outlets for my art and photography while also getting more involved with on-campus clubs.

Change is possible for everyone, it just takes a little push from yourself to start the transformation. 

When our break came to an end, I gathered my art supplies, packed up my camera equipment, and made the drive back to Raleigh with aspirations of turning my thoughts into action. Since I settled back into my dorm in January, I have been working on making more time for my art while also dedicating more time to my clubs and organizations, Technician and the College Mentors for Kids program. However, a plan is rarely perfect the first go around, so I’ve made sure to set aside time for self-evaluation to better understand how I should integrate these new breaks into my busy schedule. By evaluating what’s working well and what needs improvement, I can better understand how these changes are affecting my life. I am a big planner who lives off of Google Calendar, so I assumed that by planning ahead and setting aside time for different activities throughout the week, I could prove to myself that I do have spare time to set aside for leisure.

With March approaching, I have been considering how these changes have affected my life so far. It has been over a month of working on these skills, and I am already in a much better mental state than I was at the end of last semester. I am learning how to find happiness within my busy schedule and working on embracing the organized chaos. Whether it’s practicing my watercolor painting or learning how to do bed yoga, I’m finding ways to lighten my stress across the board. None of this change would have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to reflect on my life, determine what the difference was between where I was and where I wanted to be, and work on transforming my current state into what I pictured in my head.

Change is possible for everyone, it just takes a little push from yourself to start the transformation. 

Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program