April 30th, 2015 marked the final day I would ever need to attend an undergraduate class for the rest of my college career(whatever that’s left of it at least). It was weird to even think of it.

At the start of 2015, I came back from winter break all fired up to get through the semester with intentions to finish strong. Even if juggling 18 credits, a part-time job and looking for a full-time position after graduation might have driven me insane, it wasn’t going to stop me from trying.

Oh boy, has it been a monster of a struggle alright. There were so many times I didn’t know what to do with myself. When I’d be working on assignments late at night and alone, it was overwhelming and hard to deal with, but I refused to open up to anyone about it. Having been trained to keep complaints to myself and hide it behind a smile, it was easy to respond “I’m good!” every time someone asked how I was.

I’ve heard people say, “why should you complain about something if you brought it upon yourself?”. There is truth in that and it really motivated me sew my mouth shut but being aware of the problem, trying to fix it and struggling was taking a toll on me. Unfortunately, these changes don’t happen overnight and it requires a lot of reflection, hard work, and patience to “fix”.

The first couple of months into the semester was fixated on trying to do things the “right” way. In other words, I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. Throughout the semester, my professor, Tim Cigelske, made the class do a weekly writing exercise that required us to talk about what we were struggling with and progressing from during the week. I constantly wrote about how I struggled with time management in the beginning and he advised me to find times I was most productive and do work then.

I already knew when my most productive hours of the day, or should I say night, were. Staying up until 1am to almost 4am on some days to get work done was a norm to me. Since this wasn’t the best habit to keep, I tried to curb it and get my work done earlier during the day in between classes but I often felt distracted and it would take me even longer to get tasks done.

In the end, I realized that if late nights worked better for me, I would stick to that and make it work with a slightly earlier bed time. I also had to learn how to time myself when getting work done instead of staying unproductive on the same assignment for hours. It’s much better now.

Another thing I learned in the process is to stop planning. When you plan, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal you’re trying to reach because you’re so focused on getting the plan down to the wire. You get caught up and stressed out because maybe you’re not following the plan like how you should be, which might end up making you feel worse about yourself. That’s why I decided to focus on getting things done instead of creating a plan. Being flexible is a great way of understanding that things don’t always work out the way you planned them to be so you may be better off being mentally prepared that anything can happen in the process.

Now, as the semester draws to a close and I reflect on the past 5 months, I am happy that I spent time trying to figure out how things work for myself. If it wasn’t for the support of loved ones, great classmates and even my professors, I don’t know what I would have done. Albeit I’ve not perfected anything or have my life completely put together, all that matters is that I’m trying.

To those who struggle and to those who don’t, my advice is to be kind. Be kind to yourself when you struggle and don’t be afraid to reach out and be vulnerable because there are people who want to care for you but don’t know how if you don’t voice out. Be kind to others who struggle because they wouldn’t open up to you if they didn’t think you cared for them. The last thing people need is for someone to pass judgment and reinstate their current thoughts of how incompetent they already think they are. So be kind and love people because everyone is different and we’re all battling our own struggles everyday.

To everyone that I’ve met at Marquette University, thank you making my college experience an unforgettable one. I’m glad I’ve crossed paths with so many because they have made all the difference in my life and helped me grow in the last two years I’ve been here. I can only hope I did the same for you.

Lastly, to MU’s graduating class of 2015; congratulations! We made it. In the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola, go forth and set the world on fire. Be the difference Marquette University has made you out to be and always remember your roots. Best wishes to everyone in their future endeavors.

“Be kind, don’t judge and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place. The point is to teach this to the next generation.” — Jasmine Guinness
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