Staying Present through the College Experience
Fellow students – past, present and future – this post is for YOU!
I just finished my undergraduate degree in the quaint, little town of Flagstaff, Arizona. When you think of Arizona you imagine cacti, sunshine and creepy crawlers, am I right? But northern Arizona is a completely different world. I’m talking about four seasons with pine tree forests, sunny 70 degree days and snow, so much snow during the winter season.
You may know me as the Community Manager of The Journey Junkie. My name is Sunday and this is my first ever blog post. I’m thrilled to share my college journey with you and discuss ways you can practice mindfulness during these demanding four years.
Here’s a little background on me, I grew up a few hours south of Flagstaff in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. I lived in the same house for 18 years, I’m an only child born to two lovely parents who met at the very university I just graduated from. I wanted to be a writer from a young age, which inspired me to start keeping journals in middle school. Now in my early twenties, I have stacks of journals that catalog my life: the ups, the downs and everything in between.
I am so grateful that I have kept this habit of journaling everyday. Sometimes I think writing down my thoughts, feelings and goals is it what keeps me sane.
So how does one stay present throughout the rigorous curriculum? I reflected on my experiences and created the following checklist to support your body, mind and soul during this time:
Sit down in a quiet space at the end of each week and write down the positive things that happened. Answer questions like … What are you grateful for? What is your number one goal for next week? How are you making your dreams into a reality? Re-read your answers when you are feeling overwhelmed to help ground yourself.
Get a Planner
There is no way I would have survived without my Passion Planner. It’s this amazing tool designed by a young woman, fresh out of college, who understands that love and gratitude should motivate our actions. By having space to schedule work and play, along with inspirational quotes and room to doodle, this planner is what every student needs to stay focused.
In college it’s easy to lose track of time and neglect your body. Sign up for a yoga class at your university or get a membership at a local studio to keep you motivated. Include your exercise regime in your planner, so you have no excuse not to step on the mat. Clearing the mind of all other responsibilities will lower your stress levels and improve your mood.
Step away from the essay and reconnect by taking a walk around campus, go on a hike, find a playground swing and give yourself a much needed break. Anything that gets you outside, surrounded by the beauty of mother nature will instantly bring a smile to your face.
In for 1, 2… out 1, 2, 3, 4… just breathe. When your alarm goes off in the morning, before taking a test, in the middle of class, it’s always a good time to be present. Counting breath grounds you and centers you in the moment. Meditation won’t change your circumstances but it changes the way you perceive them.
No, I’m not talking about your textbooks, although those are important. Make time to read for pleasure. Set a goal of finishing at least one new book a month. Allow yourself to enter another world for awhile, where deadlines and GPAs don’t matter. It will put your mind and soul at ease.
Create a Vision Board
I’m a big believer in the power of visualization and goal setting. How do you create a future if you can’t picture it? Grab a couple of magazines, a pair of scissors and cut out anything that inspires you: words, pictures, patterns, etc. Now imagine where you want to be in five years. Glue it all together on a board and look at it everyday before class for inspiration. You’ll be amazed how much of it manifests in your daily life.
Now four years later, I’m proud to say I have earned my Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and was accepted into all seven grad schools I applied to. Talk about a Paris Geller moment from Gilmore Girls! And it was all thanks to the daily practices I mentioned above.
So, what’s next?
It’s the question every college graduate is faced with. It feels like I was plagued with this question everyday of my last semester. And the truth is, I have no idea. But here is what I do know. I enjoy teaching others, both in the classroom and on the mat. I need to be surrounded by mountains – the open air – to prosper and grow. Most of all, I never, ever want to stop learning.
Do I continue my higher education? Do I apply for jobs? Find an internship? Buy a one way ticket and travel? As all college grads know, there’s no right answer. Everyone is on a unique path with different hopes and dreams.
The final piece of advice I will leave you with, my fellow students, is if you find a job that makes you happy, you won’t work a day in your life. I know it sounds cliche but hear me out.
For me, it started with a love for journaling that transformed into a passion for providing the public with the most accurate and critical news coverage. I worked for the student newspaper and anchored on live television, all while maintaining a steady yoga practice. My dream is to make a positive impact on this world and everyone in it.
I discovered The Journey Junkie my junior year of college, which inspired me to make my own Monthly Goals + Reflections while giving me new yoga challenges to focus on. I never could have dreamed that I would become Allie’s social media intern last summer and now the Community Manager. I am beyond grateful to be apart of this journey with her and all of you!
So follow your passions and listen to your heart. There is no one stopping you, but you.
Soon I will be pursuing my master’s degree in the gorgeous state of Colorado while I work toward my 200 hour yoga teacher training. If I can do it, so can you students (and everyone else here in this community)!
And remember, everyday is a blessing, we just have to search for the silver lining.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I hope you’re feeling empowered and inspired to stay present during your college years and beyond.
As always, I’d love to hear about your personal experiences so please leave any comments or questions you have below or feel free to reach out to me in the Live Your Journey Facebook group as well, I’m always here to support and inspire the community anyway that I can!
Until next time beautiful souls,