The Words of the Roomet Family

How to Not Burn-Out at School

Victoria Roomet
June 2011

When I was a student at college I got involved in lots of different activities and was able to go full steam ahead up until my junior year. People always say junior year is the most challenging, and it definitely was for me, but only because I created that crazy situation for myself. My schedule was so jam-packed that it got to a point where I actually had to run from class to practice to meetings in order to be on time. Needless to say, the over-drive did not do much for my sanity, and by the end of that fall semester, I realized I needed to slow down.

1. Just say "no"

The first thing I did was I started saying "no" to people. I know it is hard to do especially when you have very good intentions and you want to help. But it is important to be realistic to yourself and your schedule. I realized I could not do everything, and I would be much more effective if my efforts were more focused, rather than spread out over myriad activities. So, cut out the excess. Life will go on even if you say no: there are plenty of other capable people at your school who can also get things done.

2. Find a mentor

My mentor was someone who worked at my school whom I could speak to about my "education -- outside of the classroom. He happened to oversee many aspects of student life including those I was involved in (athletics, chaplaincy, intercultural center, student activities, etc.), so we were a perfect match. I found my mentor during my sophomore year while I bounced ideas off of him for a club I wanted to start. From there, our mentor/mentee relationship grew, and this bond came in especially handy when, for example, I felt pretty bad about being benched during a softball game. Following said situation, I walked into my mentor's office feeling crummy and worthless, with tears welling up in my eyes. He then told me I was a superstar, and I should not let something as small as that get me down, especially with all these other aspects of my life going for me. Believe me, it helped -- right words at the right time. My mentor helped restore my perspective and rearrange my priorities.

3. Find a place on or off campus that only you and God know about

I once heard a lecture at a workshop about mastering your spiritual life at college and one of the suggestions was finding a tree on campus to pray at. So, ready to make my senior year a great one, the first thing I did when I set foot on campus was hop on my bike and look for my tree. Instead of a tree, what I found was a wooden swinging chair overlooking a reservoir on the Charles River, on a winding road right behind my dorm. It was love at first sight with my new spot, I can tell you; that spot was there for me during some tough times. And in the fall, I could see the tree-lined reservoir turn colors and swans swimming. God handed me a winner of a spot and it helped me so much throughout the year. This little spot became my retreat, a great place for me to be alone and reflect.

4. Find a way to treat yourself

The other little tidbit that I put into practice during my senior year was creating time to treat myself -- in my case, alone, I started going consistently to Boston CARP meetings on Friday nights during my senior year (which I was able to do by making it a priority and scheduling my other activities around it). I loved going to these meetings. It was a great chance to reflect on my week and relax with some amazing people. Not to mention it was very refreshing to have conversations related to some aspect of spirituality since that did not always happen for me at school (especially in my psychology classes). Brandeis University has a shuttle that takes you from campus to either Harvard Square or the intersection of Mass. Avenue and Beacon Street, and it ran every ninety minutes. If I took the 7:30 pm shuttle I would get to the CARP meetings right on time. Rather than do that, I decided to take the 6 pm shuttle and make a pre-CARP meeting stop at the Boston Tea Stop, my favorite bubble tea place right in Harvard Square. Then I would order one (or two, depending on how tough my week was) Hot Jasmine Green Milk Tea with boba and happily sip that delicious beverage to my heart's content until it was time for the meeting. Doing this small thing I loved recharged my batteries.

I recall those Friday evenings with feelings of warmth because I really believe that, along with my special spot on the Charles, they helped me survive, enjoy, and thrive during my senior year at school (that, and, anything associated with good bubble tea "wahhms my heahht" -- as the New Englanders say). I only wish I would have thought of those practices sooner. So, college students, remember to say "no" sometimes, nominate a lucky individual to be your mentor, and find special retreats on or off campus that only you and God know about. Then, don't be afraid to spend some quality time with yourself, consistently. It will make your time at school that much more wonderful. 

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