Life is a balancing act and sometimes it can really test our perseverance. We are constantly juggling and multitasking a number of different things from work, assignments, plans with friends, personal downtime- you name it. There can be so much on your plate that it’s hard to prioritize your mental well-being. When this happens, it’s time to take a step back and practice some self-care strategies.
Think back in time to the you who was fresh out of high school, with the world at your feet and the presence of the unknown looming over your head. Now think about the you of today, of the person you’ve become and the milestones you’ve achieved to get to this point time. The in-between of then and now is your own personal story full of twists, turns and hurdles. All the places you’ve been, the connections you’ve made, and the knowledge you’ve acquired can all be classified under one genre: coming-of-age.
During these past four months, I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of students through drop-ins at the library as well as during appointments at the Writing and Communication Centre. Among the teaching and communication skills that I have learned through this experience, I am also thankful for the lessons learned. Here are a few:
September can bring many things: a new school, a new term, a new adventure or a new job. As the leaves are just starting to change, you may be too. A new school year can mean new goals, expectations, discoveries and challenges. As a student heading into my third year of studies, September represents a chance to get back on track and refocus. After a summer of working at the Writing and Communication Centre and seeing so many students achieve their own academic goals, face their own challenges and learn new things in their field, I’m excited to do the same.
Journal writing is one of those things that everyone seems to start, but can never maintain. Life gets in the way and we are often too busy to sit down at the end of the day and dedicate time to self-reflection.
Most of us, and especially those of us who engage in creative writing, have experienced this thought before. Oftentimes when looking back at something we’ve written, we are either ashamed or embarrassed by the quality of our work. It’s a similar sensation to hearing your voice on a recording; do I really sound like that? Did I really write that? There are countless times where I have written something then later crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. I’m sure many people are familiar with this feeling. But why do we feel it, and what can we do about it?
“Writer’s block.” Two dreaded words for any student, first year undergrads and PhD candidates alike. Most other problematic writing habits stem from writer’s block; procrastination is when you’ve convinced yourself that you will write something, just not yet. The timing isn’t right, or you don’t have enough time to get enough of your thoughts down, or you need to perform your pre-writing rituals like binge-watching The Wire or cleaning the kitchen. Everyone is different, but the problem remains the same. Where to begin?
It’s hard to conclude your work when you get to the end, especially when so much has happened. This is usually where you question yourself: What have I learned? Why was this important? How could I improve? Did I enjoy what I did?
In high school, I took visual arts every year, and I loved it. Weirdly enough, I’ve always had one art teacher (hi, Mr. Simpson!). I loved the amount of freedom I had with my projects, and the exercises we did every week; the class was liberating (especially compared to the AP STEM courses I took).