For reasons unknown, I find surviving the spring semester just a tad more difficult than surviving the fall. Perhaps it’s the tantalizing prospect of summer, the brutally cold walks to 8 a.m. classes, or the absence of major holidays to anticipate. (I’m looking at you, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.)
As a creative person, this “spring semester slump” becomes even more challenging because it bleeds into all aspects of my life. My passion for “making it,” chasing my dreams, and living in pursuit of the next big obstacle starts to flicker and dim.
Let’s face it: trying to create, study, take time for mental health, and still survive with a social life seems laughable at times. Like me, you might also become discouraged. The cycle of comparison and negativity starts to simmer. It’s a black hole, but, readers, I’m here to tell you that climbing out of this hole is not only possible, but also essential to your well being as a human and as an artist.
Here are my three favorite ways to take a “reality check” and shake myself out of a slump and into a positive and creative mental place. I hope they help you, too.
#1: REALIZE: (Almost) everything in your life exists because you said “yes” to it.
This is a big one for me. I stumbled across a similar idea while watching self-help videos on Youtube – makes for a killer Saturday night, am I right? – and it resonated with me.
The circumstances I find myself in today - including the stress, grind and pressure of college - exist because I said “yes” to them and “no” to passivity. While my obligations might seem overwhelming at the times, I’m blessed and privileged to attend school and pursue my future.
Getting to chase dreams is a gift, guys. Smell the roses, drink some coffee, and keep moving forward.
#2: RESET: Stop looking inward and start reaching outward.
Disclaimer: I’m not asking you to give up on self-reflection or meditation or checking in with your mental health. Those are all awesome ways to keep you sane in college. But, if you’re creative, over-analytical, and a bit of a perfectionist (like me) you can get so wrapped up in your own world that you miss out on the one around you.
When my thoughts head down a negative path, I try to stop myself and ask: Was I kind to people today? Did I try to love people well today? Did I give back to the people who have given so much to me? Chances are I need to pull myself out of inward-focusing mode and start looking for opportunities to brighten the lives of the people around me. It’s certainly not easy – I fail at it more often that I succeed. But it helps me feel better from the inside out.
#3: FORGET: Stop comparing yourself to others.
I feel like this is The Holy Grail of all self-help mottos. Comparison is the thief of joy, after all. When I start looking at other people’s talents, successes, and creative ambition, sometimes I miss the chance to develop my own. It can be tempting to engage in the comparison game, especially at college, where it seems like almost everyone is talented, intelligent, deep, and amazing at x, y, or z.
But here’s a cool piece of news: you’re kind of amazing, too! Celebrate other people’s successes and gifts, but remember your own worth. And don't engage in anything that actively makes you feel bad about you.
Readers: what’s your favorite tip for living a well-balanced, creative life?
Any tricks you’ve learned along the way? Do you struggle with comparison or overanalyzing too? What’s the number one thing college has taught you? Let me know in the comments below!