This semester seems simultaneously like the longest and most fast-paced semester of college yet. As a sophomore in my second semester, this is not just the halfway point of the spring semester itself, but of my collegiate career, as well.
Typing these words feels surreal, as I remember a time last year where I could barely imagine next week, let along the next year. Two years ago, I could not fathom what college would feel like, and I had trouble imagining myself seven and a half hours away from home. This moment felt so far away back then, and now that I’m here, I want to pause and reflect on the past two years, and this whirlwind semester.
In the past two years, I wasted no time diving into Elon News Network. I carved a space out in the newsroom for myself, working hard and growing as a reporter and a person. I made some of the best friends and relationships I could ask for in the newsroom. I have won awards, taken on leadership roles and can honestly say that my work makes a difference in the community.
I learned some hard lessons in the newsroom, as well. I faced a lot of burnout writing through the pandemic. Constantly being exposed to the deep hardships of humanity takes a toll, and for a long time, I refused to acknowledge the pain my passion brought me. I worked to balance school and reporting, reporting and a social life, and I didn’t always succeed. There were many nights I wondered if I could sustain my current trajectory, or when it would all fall apart.
With time, however, I found solace in my growth as a person and a journalist. I sought out feedback personally and professionally, I worked on finding ways to balance my commitments that worked for me and I let go of relationships, habits and work that no longer served me as an individual. While it was hard to put in the work needed to get myself on track, I saw the difference it made in my overall quality of life — that was reason enough to continue.
In my classes, I had to get used to asking for help. I did not often ask for help in high school and would spend hours studying, working and problem solving on my own to succeed. In college and as a student journalist, I realized my high school habits would no longer help me. Now, in my sophomore spring semester, I am proud of the adaptations I made. I am proud of the effort I put into my classes. I am also proud of my recovering perfectionist techniques — sometimes, your best is all you have.
This semester I focused on doing things that worked for me. While it seems like an obvious goal, I often fall into the trap of doing things that work for others and wondering why they don’t have the same result for me. From comparing my grades to my friends and peers to reading countless articles on productivity, I fall victim to attempting to mold my life into what looks like success, rather than working on my own definition of success and working toward that. I began tracking my homework assignments differently. I found that scheduling in meals, self-care and healthy habits is the bet way to hold myself accountable and to stay on track. All of these little moments of self-discovery really added up in the long run, allowing me to feel and see my efforts paying off in the long-run.
I’m at the halfway point. A lot of things in my life are about to change. As a planner, I have mixed emotions when it comes to change. Change means adapting, re-planning and getting settled in a new way of life. But what I’ve learned, especially while living in a pandemic for the last year, is that change is not inherently good or bad. Adapting can lead to a better version of myself. Changing the plan can reveal new goals and things I want that I never would have considered. Settling in again leaves room to grow, get rid of things that no longer serve me and continue on this journey of becoming myself.