A question that college students often ask is: how do you stay happy in college when there’s so many things going on? The short answer is, well, it’s hard. When you’ve got projects and papers due every other week and assignments flying at you at full speed, it can be pretty easy to always feel like you’re drowning. Not to mention the fact that you’ve got to balance all this with your other passions. I’m sitting on a train to the city as I’m typing this, and let me tell you, I can go on and on about the fact that there needs to be way more hours in the day. But simply put, it’s super easy to feel totally drained in college and you’re not the only one.
The long (and honestly much more encouraging) answer to this age-old question is actually what I’m going to be outlining in this post. Over the years, I’ve found that adopting certain habits have actually helped me keep my head above water and feel overall much more satisfied with my college experiences. And since this is, without a doubt, going to be my toughest semester yet and the toughest for many other people, I decided to share those habits with you. Read on to find out what they are!
1. Learning how to have experiences on your own.
Everything is better with company. Correction: Some things are better with company. Sometimes it’s much more relaxing and fulfilling to swallow your pride and go to that festival by yourself, or attend that event on campus alone—yes, even if you think you’re going to look awkward as hell by yourself. The truth is that your friends won’t always be there to help you have fun, so you need to learn how to make your own fun! Trust me, it’ll pay off and you might actually enjoy taking yourself on these little excursions by yourself.
2. Making more time for friends.
I know, I literally just said you have to learn how to be by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should totally exile your friends from the kingdom that is your hectic college schedule. I used to put my schedule ahead of hanging out with friends because in my mind, it was more alleviating to just get shit done. But then this would lead to me feeling very unsatisfied even after I’ve finished everything. So I always feel so much better studying and working in the company of close friends. It’s nice to know that there’s someone with you even when you have the worst assignments ever. Plus, you’re still getting your work done! If you’re really busy, you can also make time for friends by suggesting you eat dinner together on certain days, or planning trips to the gym together.
3. Taking chances more often.
Sticking to the same routine is familiar and comfortable, but sometimes it also gets boring. Make a habit of shaking things up once in a while, because how many surprises do we really get in life? Whether it’s applying to study abroad when you’ve never left the country before, or trying out a new fitness class you’ve never heard of, the thrill of a new experience can really boost your mood and help you stay wonderfully curious. 😉 Again, it doesn’t have to be a major gamble on your life or anything; just go for the small things, even if it’s just changing up your Starbucks order every Monday or something.
4. Starting a relaxation routine.
OH. EM. GEE. Seriously, if you can’t remember the last time you had a moment of chill time, it’s probably time for you to have some chill time stat!!! I know, easier said than done. But it’s important to at least have a go-to relaxation routine that you can jump into when you’re feeling super stressed. I’m still trying to nail my ultimate routine, but part of it definitely includes cooling under eye masks and lots and lots of Beyoncé. You don’t need a three-hour routine, either. Even just having an hour to yourself to get your head together can make such a difference. Get in the habit of doing this regularly.
5. Stop seeing your peers as competition.
Ugh, seriously, constantly plotting ways to stay two steps ahead of Tom, Dick, and Harry so you can be the best in the class is SO. EFFING. EXHAUSTING and so not worth your energy! I seriously hate seeing classmates prefer to tear each other down and try to be slick with each other instead of helping one another out! Yes, someday you very well may be competing for the same job or internship, but right now you’re colleagues. So instead of using your energy to remain a lone wolf and avoid helping your classmates, form a study group or group chat for internship links or something. Quid pro quo, my friend, quid pro quo. If you really need help, or if you’re looking for connections, your classmates might just be the ones to help you there.
6. Stop thinking you always have to be the best.
I know many of us are used to the fame and prestige that comes with being known as the smartest kid in high school, or he best karate student in the dojo, but you don’t always have to be numero uno. Everyone falters and fails, and you’re no less smart or less talented when you do. It takes a lot of energy to be envious of someone for understanding something you don’t, or for picking up a skill faster than you can. Do yourself a favor and let it go. In fact, use it as an opportunity to be-friend that person and ask for tips or advice. You’ll have more energy to be happy when you’re not constantly trying to outdo your “rival.”
7. Learning to be happy for other peoples’ successes.
You’d want your friends and peers to be happy for you when you have a major victory, so learn how to not be insanely jealous if someone you know gets an internship you wanted, or when your friend gets their dream job and you have nothing. Dwelling on what other people have will make you miserable, and your time is much better spent thinking about what you can do to further your own goals while taking the time to celebrate accomplishments with friends.
8. Dressing up for class once in a while.
No, there is nothing wrong with dressing up for class a few times a week; there doesn’t need to be a special occasion for you to whip out your prettiest crop top and cutest ankle booties. Dressing up can seriously boost your mood, even when you have class until 10pm without a break and a slew of meetings afterward.
9. Developing a good relationship with at least one professor.
When I was in middle school, I used to have that one teacher who I could randomly visit during lunch or during trips to the bathroom just to talk about my progress in school and how I’m doing. In high school, I had the same thing. And now, college is no different. It’s really nice to have someone who could offer you a new perspective, someone on the inside who’s been through all this already who isn’t your mom or dad. Don’t get me wrong, I still tell my parents everything, but having a professor you trust can really put you on the path to success. They will go the extra mile to make you more comfortable in the program and address any goals and give you advice for the future. Get to know your professors during syllabus week and see which ones you click with the best.
10. Complaining less.
Honestly, I’m still working on this, but I think I’ve gotten better at it over the years! I usually complain as a means of venting to people, but it’s also really important to recognize when complaining is actually stressing you out more, or causing you to make a bigger deal out of something than necessary. Plus, complaining can affect your friends if it gets to the point where they feel like they rarely hear a good experience come out of your mouth. Try journaling if you feel like you need to get your thoughts out. Or complain to your parents because I think they want nothing more than to squash your fears and stress. I’ve also been trying to look for the positive in everything, even when things don’t work for me, so that usually helps me feel better about any situations!
Hope you guys liked this post and you’ll give these tips a try!
What are your tips for having a happier college experience?