Academically, I am one of the most stress-free people I know. I always get between 8-10 hours of sleep. I rarely spend more than an hour a day on schoolwork. And yet, consistently, I am a good student who manages to turn in all of my work on time, often with high markings.
The most interesting aspect of all of this is that I do have ADHD and learning disabilities, but instead of wrestling with it, I use it to my advantage. I realize what my limits are, and I don’t try to push myself towards objectives that will simply be a waste of time. For example, I am NOT a textbook reader. I never have been, and I never will be. Rather than sit in my room and spend four hours trying to absorb a textbook, I’ll do other work instead that I know can be easily maximized. I can write three papers in four hours, so I might as well knock that out instead.
In all my three years of college, I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on thirty or so textbooks. Realistically, I think I’ve opened three of them in my life. I’ve never failed (or even come close to failing) a class.
If this is ringing any bells, I have an exercise for you- make a list of all your academic strengths and weaknesses. Can you do anything about your weaknesses? If yes, it might be time to buckle down and work harder. Or, do you have a disability that prevents you from excelling in a certain area? Stop sweating about it. Focus instead on what you do well, and I promise you will flourish.
Like I said, I’m not a textbook reader. I have a really hard time sitting myself down and reading something that’s simply not interesting to me. I don’t enjoy answering questions on worksheets, especially if they’re self-explanatory and sound silly to answer. And, the worst, is taking tests and exams. I do not like working under pressure in those types of environments, and having my objective knowledge tested in a subjective method has never meshed well for me.
That being said, I have my strengths. I love to write essays and find it really easy to punch them out. I can write an A-grade, five page paper in less than two hours. I’m also very comfortable in group discussions that enable me to share my thoughts, and can intuitively figure out subject matter very quickly (without reading the textbook). I am comfortable with admitting what I’m not great at, but I’m also not afraid to admit what I am good at. I believe, in general, we need to give ourselves more credit.
Like I said, because I have figured out my learning style, I am able to excel in the majority of my classes without stressing myself out exponentially. This is one of the biggest ways I keep my stress down- I focus only on doing my best, and if I feel like a task is a waste of time or energy, I find a way around it. That’s not to say “Give up when things get hard,” rather, “When things get hard, try not to stress too much. Carry out your work in the most effective way to your health and learning style.”
I always strive to do well, but I’m not obsessed with being an A+ student. College is a short channel in my life, it doesn’t define it- so I’m not going to work myself into a panic over the small stuff. I am totally and completely happy with soaring through college, and take B’s with gratitude. I am solidly okay with being “just average”, as long as it means my happiness and my health needs are met. I could never justify pulling an all-nighter to get a perfect grade on an assignment that won’t even matter in five years.
I have an article similar in nature to this one, which deals with how I manage my time at college. As a full-time student, I take six classes, post four blog articles a week, write for my school’s lifestyle magazine, and I still have time to take care of myself and get 8 hours of sleep per night. Like I said, it’s all about priorities. If I am assigned a fifty-page textbook reading for something I could just ignore and figure out myself, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Do I feel bad about that? No. That time is now going to be spent on something else, like an essay draft I’m really looking forward to starting early.
I hope this doesn’t come across as “slack off,” because that’s not what I want people to do. I don’t slack off- I maximize my time. Trust me when I say your mental health is more important than turning in every single assignment with flying colors, even if you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Take initiative to spend time with yourself and learn who you really are, and from there, everything will become a little bit more manageable. Every once in a while, it’s so important to let yourself relax.
Coming up next: Six Controversial Foods and My Opinions on Them