Don’t let stress make you crazy: Slow down and take it easy

If you’ve run into me on campus sometime recently and asked me how my semester has been going, I probably said something like, “It’s going alright, but I was supposed to be in the Netherlands.”

My plan to study at Leiden University fell through because their overtly convoluted class registration system prevented me from getting a spot in their housing system. So, instead of living abroad for five whole months, taking weekend excursions to Amsterdam and visiting France for spring break, I’m back at the College of William and Mary.

Oh, the joy.

My mood moving in might be described as toxic or bitter, but hey, who wouldn’t prefer a semester of pass/fail classes in Europe to the ’Burg, where you’re guaranteed to have at least three all-nighters and the closest things to real history are the horse-poop strewn streets of Colonial Williamsburg?

It didn’t take long before I realized I had to do something to make the semester a bit more tolerable.

I ended up coming to the difficult conclusion that although my fantasy Euro-semester lay irrevocably dead in the water, another stint at the College doesn’t necessitate me being my usual chicken-with-its-head-cut-off self.

In other words, to make my semester go a little easier I decided to make it a goal to be consistently less stressed out this semester. Too many times I’ve found myself editing a paper in the Tyler Hall computer lab at 10 in the morning, after having stayed up all night, barely able to form coherent sentences and wondering exactly how bad energy drinks actually are for your cardiovascular system, or staying in on a Saturday night to read because I felt that compelled to get work done, or looking down at my stomach thinking, “It’s been two whole weeks since I worked out.”

These are all scenarios, my friends, which I am determined to avoid this semester.

To make the room for the leisure that I crave oh-so-much, I had to give my schedule a little nip-tuck. Ultimately, I decided to take a relaxed 14-credit schedule, instead of my usual 16 or 17, and move down from a leadership role in The Flat Hat to the super-esteemed position of Confusion Corner columnist. Tearing myself away from the infinite array of fascinating classes and taking a side seat in an organization I’ve worked hard for since freshman year was no easy task for a workaholic, overachiever like myself, but I managed to do it. I can already say the rewards have been great; I haven’t been to a class yet where I haven’t done all the reading, I always have time to work out, and I even decided to pick up a new instrument on Craigslist to learn. Translation: Not having a lot of work feels really good.

The world wants us to move fast — so fast that it often seems we’re not enjoying the things we do in the fullest ways. So, as the semester’s workload begins to heat up, keep this advice in mind: Reduce your workload and limit your commitments in order to get the most out of your time at school.

There are an overwhelming number of interesting organizations, publications and activities to join on campus, and most people at this school, including myself, overextend themselves and get involved with several things in addition to their academic schedule. I’m here today telling you to avoid this trend.

Sure, you can’t put it on your resume that you go to the gym several times a week, casually play piano in the Ewell practice rooms, or have developed a knack for cooking dinner for friends on weekends, but making room for those sorts of simple things is what keeps you sane, and what differentiates you from the tons of other super-smart work drones going to school here.

The job market may be competitive, but a College degree looks great and most people will tell you that, for their professions, GPA and even your major aren’t deciding factors when it comes to getting employed.

So go ahead, don’t be afraid to quit that lame on-campus job you got at Greenberry’s last semester, or resign from your fluffy leadership role in the IR club, because if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?

Zach Hardy is a Confusion Corner columnist and might be caught in a Euro-semester daydream every now and then.


  1. Great article! I’m a grad student here and I have to say that If I could do undergrad over again I would spend way less time stressing over slight changes in my GPA (that don’t really made a difference anywhere) and far more time making memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.


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