Don’t stress about planning out your future. Embrace life step-by-step

by Ellyse Logan, Staff Writer

Growing up, summer vacation was always something to look forward to.

I enjoyed the hot days by the beach and the lazy days stuck in the house. I was always stress free, even with the prospect of a few summer homework assignments.

This summer was just as great and I was genuinely excited to get back to school. I couldn’t wait to live with my friends again and enjoy the new-found independence that I had gotten a taste of during my freshman year. 

But as this year begins, everything seems a bit different. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I’m supposed to be doing or looking into. Attending study abroad meetings, taking the WPA exam and looking for internship opportunities are just a few of the things I have on my plate.

It feels silly to be so overwhelmed by things that take continuous time and attention, but I can’t help it. I know these things are not something I can just check off my to-do list in one day, and I feel strangely comforted by the fact that my peers feel this way too. 

Maybe it’s just the nervousness that comes with the beginning of school, but as I’ve thought about this for the last few weeks, I think it’s more than that. 

This is  the first time that I have had to take complete care of myself with little to no help from parents, and it’s a bit nerve-wracking. And the college workload isn’t helping. 

The anxiety of not having everything figured out lingers over me while the weight of everybody’s expectations pulls me down.

I’ve always been the kind of independent person and who’s eager for the next thing, but maybe I should have stopped and smelled the roses for a little bit longer while I could have. I’m not saying everything will combust if I don’t figure out my life in this very instant, but it feels like I will miss so many opportunities if I am not ahead. 

But the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to do that and it’s okay to make mistakes.

I have learned that independence is more of a journey rather than a destination. Being independent and able to take care of myself was always something I had dreamed of growing up, but I never realized how taxing it would actually be. 

Being surrounded by so many intelligent students and people who seem to have it all together doesn’t help either. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison when you don’t feel like you’re doing the best you can. At this point, the best thing you can do is focus on yourself and what you can be doing better for you.

When it comes to providing life-changing advice, just know you’re reading the words of somebody who is probably just as confused as yourself. But all we can do is learn from one another’s experiences.

The stress of school can often leave us unable to deal with all the other thoughts that bombard our minds. It’s easy to simply write our personal lives off when we have school to worry about but I would encourage you to get into the habit of writing down things you are stressed about or talking to someone about it. That person could be a trusted friend, a family member, a therapist or anyone else you trust and who you think may help. 

Once we have our problems outside of our minds, it’s easier to conquer them because they don’t seem as daunting. In my experience, it’s most beneficial to talk to friends who are in school because we are often experiencing the same things. 

Independence is about taking care of yourself as a whole. Not just physically or in school. It’s easy to fall into the trap of caring a lot about a few aspects of your life rather than to nurture yourself fully. Many of our problems stem from neglecting ourselves and listening to what others want for us. Begin to break this cycle and see what else is out there for you. 

Overall, I know I don’t have to figure out my life at this moment. I have realized that we can only take one step at a time. Even in failure, all we can do is pick ourselves up and keep heading in the right direction.

Ellyse Logan is a sophomore studying international business. Follow her on Twitter @ellyselogan.