As I start my second semester as a sophomore at the University of Florida (my semesters run Spring and Summer), the buzz about internships, jobs and studying abroad is beginning. My first year of getting the hang of college is long gone, and now I have to start making real decisions—decisions that can greatly benefit me personally and professionally. If I make the wrong choice, or act too late on opportunities, I’ll fall into the pool of college students who graduate jobless and back in their childhood bedroom.
My first year of college exceeded my expectations in the best way possible. My random roommate became my closest friend and confidant. Together we explored and learned the in’s and out’s of course registration, Taco Tuesday at Tijuana Flats and how many times we could hit snooze on our alarms before we’d actually be late for class. Speaking of classes, my first semester courses eased me into the college lifestyle. Gen-ed classes and intro classes required such little effort that my twin extra-long dorm bed became my next best friend. I never needed to sacrifice naps or nights out to Midtown. Now, my real journalism classes have picked up the pace, and my internship with College Magazine provides me with more responsibility than I imagined. I have new writers to edit for, deadlines approaching faster than Jimmy Johns and I’ve found myself burned out, to say the least.
Let’s put this in perspective: Freshman year I had a desk calendar where I marked papers due, exam dates and had space to draw cute pictures in empty boxes. Sophomore year I fill my monthly planner with multiple meeting times, dance rehearsal times and due dates, and I carry a little notebook scheduling out my day by the hour while continuing to make an errands list in my phone. If I carelessly forget my planner or notebook in my apartment, then I become as useless as a lump on a rock. Were there articles to edit? Did I have to call my mom to ask her about doctor’s appointments? Discussion posts due by 11:59 p.m.? How should I know?
My roommate, the one from freshman year, complained that I hardly go out with her anymore. Nights out in Midtown? What are those? I have deadlines to meet and work to accomplish. Yet, once a task was completed, three more were scribbled onto the bottom of my list. This proved to be a major change from my freshman year when I studied for maybe an hour and went to bed late because I chose to. These days, if I’m asleep by midnight, I consider myself blessed.
People say that being busy keeps them sane, and they can’t sit idle without feeling anxious about the next thing. Hell, I don’t even have time to sit idle, and I still get anxious. I worry that I have too much to do so I don’t produce my best work. Often I have three different assignments, articles or tasks started all at once and the forces of my workload overwhelm me to the point where I want to stop. At a point, I did. For a day or so I ignored my responsibilities here at College Magazine because my mind just felt tired. I was mentally exhausted. So yes, I went to the beach (Still, all I ever hear from older family members who are experienced in the workplace is “breaks” in the “real world” don’t exist).
This leads me to wonder if I’m even being productive towards my future goals. Will all these sleepless nights matter in the long run? Or are the dark circles under my eyes my new beauty statement? Maybe I’m criticizing myself too harshly. I’m so close to hitting my sophomore slump, quitting on opportunities and mentally detaching myself from all obligations that I feel little pieces of me fading into nothing. Completely disappearing and reappearing in my Facebook memories of today. In the end, I’m not sure if I’m just growing up and need to accept and work through everything that’s come my way, or if I’m just going down under the pressure. Perhaps all my hard work actually does go noticed, and I’ll face my comeback of the year this summer stronger than ever.