One day at a time: tackling the back-to-school season

Making an intimidating change a universal success

News Editor Lauren Rice

The month of August, for me, has always had an air of anxiety. 

The pending return to school comes with a variety of changes, expectations and social situations that, when considered all at once, presents a mountain I don’t always want to climb. 

In retrospect, my experience on campus last year was far more anxious on my end than it needed to be. I planned out every hour of my day, hoping to fit 25 hours into 24 and had a lot of what I call “mental drama” when impossible tasks proved impossible. 

This year I’m trying something new: saying no to things. 

Note to self: It’s probably best not to extend this attitude to assignments/readings that will impact your learning unless overshadowed by emotional health concerns.

Through high school, I was so satisfied with academic validation that I became a bit of a people pleaser. I went the extra mile every time, I took on new projects, I loved the letter ‘A.’ 

During one of my Advanced Placement classes, I even went so far as to organize the test prep for the entire class because I wasn’t satisfied with what our teacher had us doing. In my defense, he said to do it myself if I felt unprepared. I tend to be a bit competitive. 

While those collective efforts got me where I needed to be, the same could have been accomplished without driving myself crazy in the process. 

Forever the optimist about the future and my own abilities, this year I have to balance that with some realism. Can I accomplish amazing things? Absolutely, if I work hard to do so. Can I accomplish all of the amazing things? Absolutely not, and it’s damaging to set unrealistic expectations. 

It’s hard not to know all of the things you want to know. I’ve never been one for surprises. That’s why I know it’s not the most comforting to hear reminders that “you’ll figure it out” or to “just take it one day at a time.” But they’re right. 

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or otherwise emotionally strained, there are resources on Central Michigan University's campus that can be helpful: 

There are more resources for issues beyond academics that may be a burden at this link. Sometimes it's good just to have someone listen to you. 

Whether it’s your first year or your fourth, I think most people could benefit from remembering that there’s more to living than being alive. 

In the famous words of Billy Joel: “Slow down, you’re doin’ fine; You can’t be all you wanna be before your time.”