It is now 11 days into the semester, and I would say that this is the best I have felt in months. Last semester I made a lot of mistakes and fell into a cycle of disappointment in almost every avenue of my life. Over break, I reflected a lot on why that may have happened, and I came to a lot of conclusions about decisions I made. Reflecting on bad (and good) decisions when I was already depressed about my grades and performance as a human overall wasn't the easiest thing I've done (I actually was pretty self-loathing for the last 2 weeks of break), but it forced me into changing some things.
For example, last semester I started with 5 classes and 2 labs. I was mentoring/co-instructing a course, running SI sessions for the first time, working on the "It Gets Better: Coming Out for Change" film with the LBTQ Women's Group and premiere. I took on a lot of extra tasks and pursued opportunities that I should have passed on, all because I was so afraid of saying no to someone and disappointing them. I wanted to be known as a person who could handle it all, and still keep her shit together.
Well guess what, LJ? I'm not that person. And you know what? I don't want to be.
I decided over break that I am okay with the fact that I come across as frayed and anxious sometimes. I am okay with the fact that I am consistently late to activities (except class). I am okay with the fact that I am emotional and cry to let my anxiety out. I do not think that I should be ashamed of any of these things about myself. I am human, and as long as I am successful in some areas of my life I feel satisfied.
What I did learn was that I need to make my own happiness a priority over all else. I love helping others, I love working with my students, and I love advocating and educating with activism, but in order to be successful at those things I need to make sure I am taken care of , too.
So I made changes this semester. I worked it out with Marisa that I would spent about 5/7 nights of the week in my own room. I need a place to think for myself and lots of time to manage my own life so that I stay in control. As much as I love spending time with her, I need balance.
I made a vow to my friends that I would get dinner with them at least once a week, and then spend one of my weekend nights hanging out with them. Last semester, I only really hung out with them 4 or 5 times and it caused a lot of problems. I felt disconnected from them, and from there I was stuck in an isolation cycle. Not good.
I swallowed my pride and dropped my 300 level writing class before my workload became a problem. Although I really wanted to take the course, and I knew I could do well in it, I knew that it would end up being the straw that breaks the camels back by the end of the semester.
I made sure to take a course that was not science related, so that I could keep my brain functioning in society. When I get so busy studying chemical equations, biology, and calculus, I sometimes lose track of real-world issues. I don't like that, so I took Philosophy and now I am learning to open up my brain and learn new material and concepts in new ways.
I asked the Hunger Center to only schedule me up to 6 hours a week. This one was hard. I love my job so much, and I know we are short on outreach workers, but with my 9-10 hr a week job running SI sessions for Anatomy, that's all I can manage.
I said yes when my boss at the AEC asked me if I want to take on the 300 person Anatomy lecture SI sessions for Pharmacy/Kinesiology students. This actually has been causing my a bit of anxiety (because not only can my 300 students come to my sessions if they want, but so can the other 200 person Anatomy lecture.) However, I decided to take it on because I wanted to challenge my organization and public speaking skills. I am crazy shy in front of a crowd (sometimes), and I really hate that about myself. I want to improve myself in more ways than just academically and emotionally, and I think this will help. I already feel more comfortable.
Above all, I am learning to be a lot more patient with myself. I am going to be more reasonable with myself, whether I am learning faster or slower than others, am organized or sloppy, on time or tardy, get the B instead of the A, or getting nervous in front of my students or not. I deserve that. With so many struggles in the world, what's the use of being my own enemy?
So far, all of these efforts have paid off. Even in just 11 days, I feel more on task and prepared than I ever have before. I have made myself pre-read material before class and do all "recommended problems" in my courses, I have gotten A's on 3/4 quizzes I have had, successfully run my first SI, attended meetings that I needed to before it was a last minute effort, and organized myself in a way that I always wanted too. I know I will unravel at some point, I know I will get lazy at some point, and I know that not everything works out as it is planned. But I also know that I am looking into this semester with a positive attitude and I sincerely think that makes all the difference. Without positivity , where is there motivation?
Oh! I found out today that me and four other members of the LBTQ Women's Group each personally received the "URI Champlains Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award" this year! I have a framed plaque and everything! Holly, one of the LBTQ Women's Group adviser's brought it to me from them at our meeting tonight. :] We also all had a discussion with Annie, the new GLBT Center director! I originally met her at her "interview" dinner that was held with students last semester so that we could ask questions and give our opinions on if she should get hired. I am really glad that she did because she is so firm in her beliefs, is a strong feminist, and has the clarity and wisdom to make real tangible change at the center. This makes me so so so so happy, because I have not liked the atmosphere there for quite some time...
There is such great change happening in every aspect of my life. I finally feel okay in saying that I think this is going to be a great semester.