It’s that time of the semester where everything is falling apart. From exams to papers to extracurriculars, it seems like, with the weather change, we have officially moved on from the semester’s honeymoon period to grind season. Twenty-four hours in a day doesn’t appear to be enough anymore, and after one task is finished, we have to move on to the next one without even a moment to take a breath in between. Beyond just academics, balancing extracurriculars and a social life feels impossible. Everything seems so overwhelming, and yes, there are ways to manage your time and prioritize certain things, but in reality, how helpful—or rather, how feasible—are those tactics? This article isn’t to tell you that you need to take a break, because while you do, it’s understandable to feel as if you can’t.
Case Western Reserve University certainly does nothing to alleviate the unrelenting strain on our lives—in fact, it makes it worse. Maybe it’s because we are older that it seems like we are drowning in assignments and exams, but this is not how the real world works. Jobs don’t normally involve spending every second of every hour of every day working on several things at once—jobs even let you prioritize tasks and delegate work. And beyond the myriad of assignments and exams to complete, the overlap of these things is awful, especially for exams. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, booking exam rooms is a feat, with limited times and spaces for bookings. Some students have back-to-back exams, with no choice but to suck it up and sprint or be late to their next exam, let alone not even having a second for a mental break before the next exam starts. Some professors can understand the immense workload, but most refuse or fail to. All in all, as much as CWRU says it cares about its students, it truly doesn’t, given the way most of us feel overwhelmed and simply not okay.
It is easy to say that we need to take time for ourselves and prioritize our mental health; however, doing so is much harder. As much as we should and want to decompress from the stresses in our lives, it’s not always possible. In order to maintain that good GPA, sometimes it is necessary to pull that all-nighter. In order to find a job after graduation, sometimes it is necessary to give your all to your internship. In order to keep friends, sometimes it is necessary to go out for a night with them, even if all you want to do is stay in bed, watch Netflix and eat Jeni’s ice cream. This isn’t to say that you have to do everything to maintain your relationships, academics and extracurriculars, but it’s understandable to feel as if you do.
However, even if you are swamped with life and even if you don’t have time to spend on yourself, the one thing that you should remember is not to neglect yourself. It’s essential to remember to sleep, eat, drink water and such. Of course it’s ideal to sleep eight hours a night, eat at least three nutritious meals and drink 64 ounces of water throughout the day, but as college students, many of us can’t do all three—just aim towards those things, even if it means only drinking one glass of water in the morning or making sure not to pull an all-nighter before an exam. There is a difference between prioritizing downtime and engaging in the basics of living, and it’s crucial to try your best at least for the latter.
The older we get, the more responsibilities we have, and as much as this is not the mentality we should have about life, it’s our unfortunate reality. Maybe this calls for a bigger change in how our culture works—particularly regarding grinding until we are exhausted physically and emotionally, something that is almost encouraged by CWRU. However, until a change occurs, this definitely isn’t a call to reprioritize your life, but rather an acknowledgment of the struggles most of us are facing—so just know, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed.