Remembering to care for yourself may seem impossible when you have what feels like a million and one other obligations. In college, you are faced with many new responsibilities, and it is a trial-and-error process to find a balance that works for you; but as the famous Lucille Ball once advised, “Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line.” From my experience, this holds true and is essential to understand that you are your top priority, especially during this transition. It took me almost my entire freshman year to adjust to college life and the autonomy that came with it. I enjoyed it overall, but after some reflection the following summer, I felt like something was missing. I realized that I didn’t get involved on campus. I spent the year focused on my academics and not much else, so at times when my anxiety was drowning me, I had no outlet to free myself from its grasp. I couldn’t figure out how I managed to cope with it before and struggled to find a solution. Then it hit me. I had spent my entire life participating in sports, and for the first time, I wasn’t. When I started college, I began a new chapter of my life and left behind one of the things I loved most.
When I returned for my second year, one of my goals was to be an athlete again. My passion has always been swimming and at the end of high school I came to enjoy running as well. So, at the beginning of my second fall semester, I started out by going to the pool on campus and to the gym. One day, I decided to try a spin class that was starting just as I walked in. The workout was intense, but I totally enjoyed it! At the end, the instructor encouraged people to come again for another class or to try out San Diego State’s newest sports club, the Triathlon club. I was shocked because my interest in triathlon had been sparked a few years prior by a friend of mine who had become a triathlete. I took that coincidence as a sign and decided I was going to go for it. Triathlon was a combination of two things I already enjoyed doing, swimming and running, and a new sport to learn, cycling.
It was not easy to get started though. In thinking about my full course load and the difficulty of the classes I was taking, my anxiety was beginning to get the best of me. After debating with myself about it, I felt like it was not the right time to make a commitment to something new. But then the regret started to set in. Did I want to spend another year following the same mundane routine that did nothing to appease my stress and anxiety the year before? I knew the answer was no, and I knew it was on me to take action. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career so far. Undoubtedly, there were hard days when I was swamped with assignments or when life threw curveballs my way, but I had a new group of friends who motivated me and helped me push through it. Being around people who had similar interests as I did made all the difference. Through exhausting workouts and challenging classes, we struggled together and supported one another. The bad days became less frequent as we established friendships, traveled across California, competed, and made memories. Now that I was participating in something that I enjoyed doing, I even noticed improvement in my academic performance. Going to practice left me feeling refreshed and energetic when it was time to refocus on my school work. The benefits of this one decision were innumerable.
In a time where an abundance of opportunities lie before you, don’t be afraid to take them. College is a time of exploration and discovery in efforts to mold yourself into the person you want to be. My sophomore year experiences rekindled my love for sports. It allowed me to begin networking, and I was able to meet people who helped me discover new possibilities for my future. My advice to anyone would be to never lose sight of your passions, whatever they may be. Especially in hard times, take a moment to think about the things you enjoy in life. If it is something you love, something that makes you feel alive, something that brings you joy, or something that brings you peace, don’t ever feel like you have to move on and leave it in the past. Love yourself first and let yourself indulge in these things because the actions you take now can lead you to living your most fulfilling life.
Dana is starting her third year at San Diego State University and is a graduate of Marshall Fundamental High School. She is currently studying Kinesiology with a focus on Physical Therapy, but is not 100% sure if she wants to be a physical therapist. She does have an interest in a few different things so she hopes that new experiences throughout her journey will expose her to more in the kinesiology field. She is the first in her family to go to college, so it was a bit tough to navigate through the all the processes until she came to CAP and found her way. She has had such a great time in college because she was able to experience and learn so many new things in such a short time and she can’t wait to see what the next two years will hold.