If you're reading this, take a step back. And while you're at it, take a deep breath. The air is pretty great around here.
In fact, there's a lot that's pretty great. If you're like me, sometimes you forget that.
Last semester hit me hard. I threw myself into the search for a summer internship, devoted most of my waking hours to leadership positions in my extracurriculars, and skipped way too many classes. I was doing so many things and I couldn’t keep track of them all. And it didn’t start last semester. I came to UVA like everyone else - in awe of the over-involvement of my peers and willing to buy into the culture, even if that meant joining 10 clubs I didn’t care about on the first day.
I learned the hard way that it’s okay to only do one or two things. I overextended myself; in the process I sacrificed relationships, buy-in from those I oversaw in leadership positions, respect from professors, and most importantly, free time. This semester, when I scaled down because the stress had come to be too much, I began to understand what every adult means when they say “make the most of your college years.” It’s not working yourself into the ground. It’s not being overly involved. (It’s certainly not sacrificing academics, although I’m sure they’d say skipping a class once in a while won’t kill you.) “Make the most of it” means open your eyes. ‘Smell the roses.’ Sit down and see what’s around you.
And like I said, it’s pretty great. Anyone who’s ever ventured downtown or into the mountains or along the winding roads not far off 29 knows what I mean. Anyone who’s ever sat in the amphitheater and read for pleasure or taken a historical tour of Grounds or gone to a baseball game knows what I mean. This is a special place. So take a step back and breathe it in.
Make time for the things that matter. Quit the ones that don’t.
Reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while to get coffee. Say yes to the next dinner invite. Attend the events your friends plan. Enjoy your creative writing class. Sit on the steps of the Rotunda with a Bodo’s bagel and don’t worry about what you could be doing instead.
Let yourself really live in Charlottesville. Remember that you’re only 20 minutes from great hiking trails and brunch spots and a highway with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge.
Remember that one test or leadership position or interview does not determine your worth. There is always time left to try again, or to do something new.
Breathe in the air of this city in the middle of mountains and enjoy it. Enjoy being here, in Charlottesville, at the University of Virginia. It won’t last forever.
Make the most of it.