Surviving Finals

Some of my blogs have talked about the importance of managing mental health. With finals here, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With stress, I sometimes feel exhausted from studying and completing several projects on time. With depression, I may not be motivated to prepare for exams or have no hope to pass them. With anxiety, I would get super nervous before taking an exam if I know I’m not prepared. Having these feeling makes it hard, but not impossible to get a good grade. Having some tools to combat these thoughts and feelings also make a huge impact too.

First tool is time management. This is a concept everyone has heard about. It’s annoying being told that I need to work on managing my time wisely, but it’s true. With summer right after finals, it’s easy to get distracted from studying. When it’s time to turn in assignments, it can be very stressful working on things without taking a break. There are also those times when projects are due the same day. When this happens to me, anxiety kicks in. It feels impossible to work on so many things at once. Then I remember a quote my mom always says which is “How do you eat an elephant?”. It’s a weird question but relates to time management. You can’t eat an elephant in one sitting, it’s impossible. It’s better to eat it in several, smaller meals with breaks in between. In this case, the elephant is school work. It’s important to finish assignments, but it’s also important to take a break every so often. So, no matter how daunting the elephant might be, it is still possible to finish it all, just take it one step at a time.

Second tool is communication. Talking to others could be exhausting or scary, but they could also be helpful. This could be parents, siblings, friends, professors, etc. You just need a network you can look to for advice. For me, talking to my mom or friends is a great stress reliever and allows me to vent about issues. They give ideas on how I should approach a project or problem. They motivate me when I feel sad about a grade. Something I learned this year is that it’s important to reach out to my professors and TA’s. When a concept doesn’t make sense, I email or talk to them in person. Most professors are happy to help their students during their office hours. If you have a professor that’s not very helpful, go to another professor teaching that class or the many resources offered at VCU. It’s easier to deal with college when you have a support system.

It’s important to have good mental health, especially during this time of the semester. These tools can help keep your sanity during finals. Do the things that make you happy whether that be doing a hobby, exercising, or just hanging out with friends. Remember that when the world seems to push you down, there is always a way to get back up. You can survive finals.

Being a Role Model

My freshman year has taught me a lot. From my professors to random strangers, every person who I have interacted with has left an impression on me. Some of these people I now look up to as my role models. The lessons or values these role models have shared now influence me and my way of thinking. I know what it means to look up to someone, but, what does it mean to have someone looking up to you? What does it mean to be a role model? I have been thinking about this question recently. I define a role model as someone who has values and traits that others would want to embody. Generally, a role model presents positive values like integrity and compassion. I think anyone can be a role model to another person no matter the age.

I was always told that I was a role model for my younger brother and cousins. I was the oldest of the children, so all the kids had their attention towards me. My brother, when he was younger, would come to me asking questions and making sure something he said was right or wrong. He looked up to me for answers and guidance. Anything I did would eventually be copied by him. Any misbehavior would be traced back to me. I somewhat understood the general concept of a role model but never fully comprehended what it meant to be one. I think in middle school was when I started to realize what that title means. Teachers would start encouraging you to think about career options. Never asked how you were going to do it, just what do you want to be when you are older. When I told my brother I was thinking about doing something in the medical field because I wanted to help people, he started thinking about helping others and also doing something in medicine. Now that he’s a senior in high school, he is looking towards being a physical therapist. I don’t think he remembers that interaction, but I believe my own values have influenced him.

It’s not just my brother who I am a role model too. People from my youth group, school, and friend groups have also look towards me for guidance. They ask questions relating to college, relationships, and general life advice. They look up to me for answers. I know my actions will impact another person’s life. Anyone can be a role model, even if they are not aware of those who admire them.

April Showers

The saying “April showers bring May flowers” seems to be true this year. These past couple of weeks have been filled with very rainy days. Virginia has always been known for humidity and unpredictable weather. In these warmer months, there is a possibility of seeing rain in our weather apps more often. With rain comes different feelings or thoughts. Especially with finals around the corner, everyone could be acting differently when there is a storm. Everyone also has an opinion about the rain.

Many, including myself, can enjoy the rain. From a light drizzle to intense thunderstorms, it is possible to feel a sense of calm. I don’t know why, but just hearing a downpour can be super relaxing for me. If a storm goes on for hours, I will have my window open and listen to it. During a thunderstorm, my brother and I will guess how long it takes for us to hear thunder after seeing lightening. Whoever guesses right wins. These of course are my own experiences with rain. Others who also like rain have told me there is a refreshing feeling after a storm. Imagine, after days of high humidity there is finally a storm that seems to wash away the sticky air. I also know kids who are excited to go outside and jump into big puddles while it’s raining.

There are also reasons why a person does not like the rain. The dark clouds and wet weather can make a person feel sad or depressed. During heavy storms, a person may feel trapped in their home or place of work. This trapped feeling could get worse if the person loses power during a heavy storm. People can also get bored quickly during a long storm. Someone could also have a fear of lighting and thunder (astraphobia) and feel panicked during thunderstorms. People will also dislike streams of water and flooding that occurs during heavy storms. If your forced to go outside during a storm the feeling of wearing wet clothes is terrible. These are just a few reasons why rain could not be enjoyable.

These examples of why a person may or may not like the rain can differ depending on their feeling and experiences. I enjoy the rain, but I don’t like the feeling of wearing wet pants and shoes when I must walk somewhere. Rain can impact our lives in ways we don’t think about like emotion. With the Virginia being so unpredictable, I can only assume that there could be more April showers in the near future.

 

 

The Many Faces Of Game Players

Even on the off chance I play them, I love games. There is an unlimited amount of board, card, or dice games to enjoy. I love games like Uno or Clue because they bring different elements to the game to make it more exciting. Games, when they get intense, also bring different personalities out of people. Sometime these personalities appear slowly, other times they show up out of know where. I think anyone who has played a game will understand these personalities.

First, there is the strategist. This is the person who, no matter what game, has a well thought plan of success. Usually, they can be too over confident while playing. Strategist are also the most patient of players. If they know they will win in the next five turns, then they will just wait. They can also be slow, taking too much time per turn to think of the best move or action for the game. I think strategists benefit most from board games or certain card games because they involve planning.

Second is the overly competitive player. These are the types of people who bring tension into the room. Sometimes, these are the players who might start yelling out of nowhere during a fast-paced game. Overly competitive players will force themselves into situations where they fight another player. This in the hopes of gaining points, money, or any other values. If they win, the player may brag too much on their successful fight. If they lose, overly competitive player may react negatively and sometimes turn into sore losers. You can find an overly competitive player in any game.

Third, the board/dull player. This is the person who finds no excitement in playing the game. Most likely, they will watch, only play one game, or have no interest whatsoever. They might draw their attention to something else like their phone or TV. You can find a board player anywhere unfortunately. It also really depends on how a person is feeling that day. They could be tired or have other things on the mind. They also just may not like the game you’re playing.

Finally, there is the alliance. These are the players who team up to mostly benefit themselves. In board games, people may help each other if they see points in the future. In card games like Uno, players may work together to take down a winning opponent. However, the biggest flaw is alliances can change quickly depending on the game.

When a game gets intense, people can change. These are the player types I remember the most. I know there is more but these to me are the most popular personalities. I think it is also important to mention that everyone can have these personalities, including me. Some of these personalities can make the game even more fun. They can create memories, connections, and more entertaining game play. These are the many faces of game players.

Finding My Tribe

Before coming to VCU, I talked to a lot of people about college and what to expect in my freshman year. The most popular piece of advice that I was given was to find my “tribe”. Of course, when people told me this, I wasn’t too worried. Making friends and talking to people was easy for me back in high school. Plus, everyone I talked to seemed to find their groups within the first year of college. However, it has been incredibly hard for me to find an actual friend.

My first semester was rough. I came from NOVA and knew only two people at VCU because we went to the same high school. They quickly found their groups and our communication became limited. I however was still searching for friends. There were many days where I was upset or angry at myself for still being alone. I joined clubs, went to school events, and try to be in public as much as possible. I tried talking to classmates, people in my dorm, even random strangers. Nothing I did seemed to work, and sometimes actually made it worse. I would see clusters of people walking or talking to each other. This would just make me feel lonelier and I started to isolate myself more in my dorm. Occasionally, I would make conversation with those sitting next to me in class, but that was it. As the semester went on, I separated myself more and more from others. I tried to only focus on school work and not what was happening outside. Weekends sucked because I was reminded that I had no one to hang out with. I was depressed and anxious all the time because I couldn’t find my “tribe”. These feelings were lessened during winter break when I was with family.

My second semester has been better. I would not say I have found my “tribe”, but I am being more social now compared to last semester. I have talked more with the people in my classes, helped classmates with assignments, and just been more open when talking to others. There are still many times when I feel sad or lonely. However, I try to force myself more to do something each day, even if I must do it by myself.

I came into college with a false expectation. I imagined having several friends before leaving for winter break. I thought that I would explore Richmond with the same group of people and have someone to talk to. I know now that it’s hard to find someone like me. I also know that I can’t be the only one struggling. I just sometimes wonder how many others are going through this.

Netflix and Binge

There have been many times where I have not moved for hours on a weekend just to binge watch a show on Netflix. It’s not hard to forget how long you have been watching a series or cluster of movies only to find out that its dark outside. This habit has also become more frequent during my freshman year of college. After working on assignments for hours, you would think that I would want to move around or go outside. When enough people though talk about how great a show is, others will want to experience that excitement which leads them into hours of looking at a screen. This creates popular shows like Stranger Things or You to be the most binged watched shows on Netflix.

I have been noticing this more while watching the entire series of Game of Thrones. With so many episodes, it would take a while for someone to watch the entire show, especially a busy college student. I know I need to focus on my work, but I want to know what happens next in the story. This past week I have found myself watching the show while I was working on my source play. I would like to think I am good at multitasking, but I know I cannot focus on both the show and my homework. Sometimes, I would miss important scenes in the show, or I would get distracted from my work for too long. At what point would a show be considered no longer relaxing, and instead a negative thing? I don’t believe that my habits are bad, but I know it’s possible to become addictive.

I knew someone who would re-watch the entire series of The Office over and over again. It takes 77 hours to watch the entire series. As soon as he finished the last episode, he would immediately start watching the first one. He could tell you the exact episode and time of when important things happened. I never understood why he would do this. It took up so much of his time and seemed to prevent him from doing any work. Binge watching a show can be a great way to connect with friends or other fans. It can be relaxing for the pressure of the past week. Binge watching can be good if done in moderation. I believe that “binging” a show should be enjoyable but should never be negative to one’s wellbeing.

Group Projects are Terrible

In high school, group projects were always annoying.  Someone would slack off or there would be one person who ends up doing all the work. In my personal experience, I end up being the one who picks up the slack. I try to delegate jobs to each person so that everyone is doing equal amount of work. However, there is always one person who would not send their work to the group. I then take it upon myself to complete the missing or lacking portion in time for the due date. This has happened to me so many times that I gladly snitch on the person who is lazy. I have even informed past group members that if they fall behind or do not meet deadlines, I will personal make it my job to inform the teacher. I know this sounds aggressive but when you do someone else’s work repeatedly, it gets infuriating.

Since coming to college, it has only gotten worse. Being in classes where no one talks to each other makes it difficult to find a group that you want to work with. Once you find a group there is a high chance that you will only see them during class. It’s not like you can walk up to them during lunch and talk about the project. They may not even answer text messages or emails making it only harder to communicate with them. As a person who has managed projects before, this makes me anxious. Not being able to talk to everyone makes me worried that I can’t hold someone accountable for when they start to get lazy. However, my greatest tool to combat this is google doc. You can see the history of what people did. I can even chat with them even if we are not in the same room. This has really helped me while I’m working on my projects.

Currently, I am working on a semester long group project for math. I will also be starting a project for PSYCH 407 soon. For math, I am already dealing with some tension. One member continues to be lazy about deadlines and finding information. Its then been left to me and another member to add to her portion of the project. I have already talked to the professor who is now keeping a close eye on our project. For PSYCH, my anxiety starts to kick in. This is a class of 150+ people who don’t talk because it’s too early in the morning and no one wants to socialize. We now must get into groups of 4 or 5 and create a presentation. Thinking about it now, I have absolutely no idea of how I’m going to do this. This only fuels my belief that group projects are terrible.

Man’s Best Friend

My goal for spring break was to do as little as possible. Because of the stressed I collected over the past few weeks, I was going to relax, sleep, and eat good food. No homework, chores, or responsibilities could force me to move from the couch. However, the only thing that could possibly make me motivated to work or study are dogs. Sure enough, my entire spring break included dogs. For me, dogs have always pushed me to do better. Their unconditional love encourages me to work harder so that I can focus my full attention on them later.  Dogs can also be very entertaining depending on their personality.

My first dog, Jordan, had a very chill personality. She loved to cuddle and dig her head into people’s chest. She was also sensitive to other people’s emotions and acted almost human. When someone was sad or sick in the house, she would lay on their feet or lay in their lap knowing it would make them feel better. Sometimes my family would find her laying on our coffee table or on an ottoman being goofy. She also would play tag with us in the house when there was nothing to do. Even in her old age, she was still active enough to chase us.

Recently, my family got a bonded pair of brothers named Thor and Loki. Loki is mischievous and jealous. He likes stealing Thor’s toy and treats and always starts fights with his bigger brother by teasing him. If he sees Thor getting cuddles or attention, Loki will push him out of the way and climb into the persons lap. Thor is calmer and loves to sleep. However, when he gets excited, he can overpower his brother and chase people around the house. Together, the boys build on each other’s energy and they love to interact with strangers and other dogs.

Even while I’m writing my blog, I’m still hanging out with dogs. Currently, I’m looking after my cousins’ dogs Birdie and Angus. Birdie is socially awkward, meaning she barks at anything for no reason and it takes a while to build some trust. Once she knows you, she is very gentle and loving. Her younger brother, Angus, is the complete opposite. He loves meeting new people and being close to them. Angus is a little ball of energy, so he loves to run and throw toys in the air. Sometimes this energy is a negative because he likes to jump on people and nibble their fingers.

All the dogs in my life have helped me in some way or another. They have made me laugh and they helped when I was not at my greatest. The love I got from them has created so many wonderful memories. I will always believe that dogs are man’s best friend.

How I Deal With Stress

After writing “The Big S”, I got some questions in regards to my personal experience with stress. Things like ” how do you deal with stress?” and “how has college stressed you? ” are just some examples. Personally I see my stress being influenced by many different aspects of my life, not just college. However, college has definitely played an important role on my mental health. I try not to worry about small assignments like homework or classwork, but my mood seems to change when it comes to more impacting work like projects or tests.

Since coming to college, I’m more tired and sometimes irritable, compared to when I was in high school. This has also been noticed by my parents. When I talk to them over the phone, it sometimes ends with me venting about school and relationships. Sometimes I feel lost or overwhelmed by obligations or worries. One question that I thought was interesting was “do you think your thoughts alone of you being stressed and overwhelmed by the workloads makes you over stressed?”. I think this question is asking if thinking about stress makes me more overwhelmed. If that’s the case, then yes, sometimes it does. I can over think things, especially in stressful situations. I may overreact and make myself worry even more than I actually need too. I can still experience this even well after finishing a task.

Even when I turn in an assignment, i’m not always relieved. I think about what I could have changed or, what I could have made better. I’m only relived when i’m satisfied with the grade.  Some ways I combat these feelings are by doing things I like. I like to pick up new hobbies or listen to music. I like to nap, so I sleep a lot. I even meditate when I feel too anxious or stressed. I force myself to try new things so that i’m not only thinking about college. I want to make it clear though that these are ways that I deal with stress, i’m not suggesting others should do the same. I only recommend that people should find stress relievers by doing things they are interested in. That could be drawing, dancing, exercising and so on. I also recommend people create a support system to communicate to. This could be parents, grandparents, or friends. Those times that i’m venting to parents often help me when i’m going through a hard time, by just being able to speak it out of my emotions into the world.

The Big S

As a college student, we constantly undergo pressure. Pressure to do well in school. Pressure to maintain relationships. Pressure to be successful. We build such a large expectation for ourselves that we end up working ourselves sick. We’re always tired from completing projects and assignments to the best of our abilities. Sometimes we feel unwell, but we know that we need to finish our classwork and get a good grade. For me, these past two weeks have been extremely exhausting. With spring break just around the corner, all my classes have had projects and tests due in a small-time frame. This is also followed by constant reminder from friends and family that the deadline for the nursing application is due soon.

So, what is “The Big S”? After the reading the top you can probably guess that it stands for stress.  Stress is a huge issue among college students. It doesn’t matter what major you’re in or what your researching, eventually we all experience stress. However, something we can control is how much stress we deal with at a time. Time management is an important skill to learn. I personally suck at managing my time. This is probably why I have felt so tired over the past couple of weeks. Every time I talk to my friends, I tell them I need to take a nap. I also think it’s funny because I wrote about mental health issues like stress for my multimodal and ended up suffering from symptoms of mental exhaustion. My point is that it’s important to give yourself space to breath. I also know that I can’t be the only going through this right now.

With spring break little over a week away, you may feel buried under assignments. Believe me when I say I’m counting down the days until I can finally relax. However, I personally would like to go into the break knowing I did the best I could before Midterms. I’m still going to force myself to finish assignments as best I could, but I am going to plan better. If I am going to give myself as much time to work on projects I need to work ahead of time. I always get annoyed with this phrase because I believe I work better under pressure. However, that is no longer an option. I honestly think that all the stress I am dealing with is affecting both my mental and physical health. I will start to use resources like campus coaches to help me cope form here on out. I totally recommend other to do the same.