Keeping a clear mind in a cluttered life

By Meaghan Robidoux
Staff Writer

The stresses of moving and being almost completely on your own for the first time can be daunting. I get it.

I am a Biochem major here currently trying to complete my first semester of college. Not only am I balancing the demanding curriculum, but I am also a student-athlete on the cross-country team. I have been struggling with being sick all semester. I have heard that many incoming first-years get what is called “the freshman plague.” I also sprained my ankle towards the end of my cross country season. I have gotten almost every form of cold imaginable as well as bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection.

Recently I have had to take leave from school because I was having vision changes. My vision became blurry and I suddenly couldn’t see very well. Right now I am in the middle of a diagnosis and the uncertainty is hard to cope with. Doctors took my symptoms very seriously. Numerous tests were run and rerun to double-check everything. And they still have not figured it out. There are three possible diagnoses. The first option is a virus that started attacking my retinas, which only takes a few months to heal. The second option was vitelliform macular dystrophy, genetic eye disease that causes progressive vision loss and has no treatment. The last and final option is treatable but not something you want to hear, cancer. The stress and worrying was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I knew I had to try and look at the positives because there was no way I would be able to finish the semester if I didn’t.

With that said I’m going to give you a few tips on how to manage the
stresses of being an incoming first-year from what I have learned. Whether that’s trying to get through a tough time, balancing academics, missing home or anything else that may be going on.

One, don’t be so willing to judge someone you don’t know. Everyone has a different story. Whenever I am going through a rough time I try and think of the things that I am grateful for: my friends, my family, my incredibly supportive team- the list goes on. Staying positive in a troublesome or stressful time may seem impossible, but thinking of one positive thing no matter how big or small makes a difference.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Two, it’s okay not to be okay. I know I’m not alone. You can’t just be positive all the time, but you also NEED to take care of yourself. Take time to do something that you like for once. Listen to some music or take a well-deserved nap. Something that I find helpful is running and I’m thinking of trying yoga. You need to be able to have a place where you can go and just be happy or sad. It’s okay not to be okay because life isn’t always fair, and life isn’t always what it seems. Lean on your friends and don’t be afraid to communicate how you are really feeling. Bottling things up can be difficult. Take a deep breath and breathe.

My third and last piece of advice is important, so pay attention. When you are going through stuff in your personal life that is affecting your academics, reach out to your professors. They want to see you succeed and will work with you. I had to take about a week and a half off due to medical reasons and all my professors were sympathetic and were willing to work with me. Just explain to them what you are comfortable telling them and go from there.

Not only are you stronger than you think, but you can get through the toughest of times.

Finding something positive in any scenario may be an arduous task at times, but not impossible. You may not think that a simple change in mindset can make a difference, but you would be surprised.

Your mindset has to be paired with you willing to think of yourself first. It isn’t selfish if it’s what you need to be the best version of yourself. You can’t help others if you aren’t well yourself. We as a human race are resilient creatures that are made up of positivity and self-care. Take time to relax and breathe or cry. Believe in yourself. Good luck with your studies and stay strong.

Meg Robidoux’22 is a student who has had a rough start to her first year in college. She hopes that sharing what she has learned from her experiences helps other students.