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.