Taking a break is worthy of consideration
This summer, and for the next eight months, I will basically be taking a leave of absence from society. My “ship date” is May 29, and I will be flying to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to begin my military training. Contrary to what I have been feeling the past six months, today I’m actually really excited for this new beginning.
College is tiring, and it’s not only due to our long hours spent studying. In college, we have a constant pressure to grow; we are here to learn, but also meet our lifelong friends, find our calling in life, learn what our hobbies are, discover things about ourselves, build character, become independent, set up our career paths, and maybe along the way, find our significant others. It’s a whole lot of “adulting” in a short period of time, and personally, it’s been a tiring journey.
As a little bit of background, I am a first-generation college student who grew up in Utah—a place that is very family-oriented. Apart from the geographical influences, being Latina with Mexican heritage has also influenced my growth. Traditionally, Mexican families are extremely tight. Kids aren’t expected to move out at 18—they’re encouraged to stay at home. Many Latino homes are made up of multiple families, and grandparents often live with their kids and grandkids. My family has always been very close-knit, and leaving them, 2,198 miles away was one of the more difficult things I’ve done. Don’t get me wrong, I chose to come to RPI. I was excited to get far away from my hometown to experience something new, I wanted to be independent! I didn’t realize how dependent I really was until I had to spend birthdays, Thanksgiving dinners, long weekends, and breaks missing my family.
My journey toward becoming a real adult hasn’t been the smoothest. My self-esteem was at an all-time low a semester ago. Somewhere along the way to where I am today, I learned to define myself based on my grades and achievements instead of who I am outside of my resume. Going from straight-A student in high school, to maybe getting one A a semester was a bit demoralizing. Finding a brand new set of friends was exciting, but also tiring on the days when I just wanted to be home and felt alone. Missing my family added an extra adjustment curve that many of us have, but it hit me a little extra hard. Learning that I needed to re-learn how to study was a shock, and organizing my “free time,” keeping up self-care, sleeping, exercising, eating right, and keeping up with the new self-imposed pressures of making my parents, neighbors, and friends proud of how far I’ve made it, were all exhausting—and I doubt I’m the only one who has felt this way.
I am so tired of school that I am now looking forward to leaving for boot camp—which sounds a little crazy. Two years ago, I couldn’t wait to get to college! However, my draw to the Army stems from its structure. College is a lot of freedom all at once, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve wasted time. While I’m in training, I don’t have to worry about what to do or what I want; I’m going to be told what to do and what to feel. As awful as that can sound, it’s a sort of freedom I am looking forward to right now. I’m looking forward to the stability that comes from having a set schedule of when to wake up, when to exercise, when to shower, what to learn, when to eat, when to socialize, and when to sleep. I have the freedom to shut my brain off, follow directions, and hopefully graduate basic training and AIT with a killer beach body, a group of people that I will most likely be friends with for the rest of my life, a career path, and discipline—all while getting paid.
Leaving society for eight months may be a little extreme for some, but to all of you who are struggling through Spring Semester, I encourage you to think about taking some time off. That may mean taking a week off from social media to decrease some of the pressures, taking a day hike to be alone, or maybe taking a quick weekend trip home to rest. However you want to approach it, take some time to acknowledge how much you’re growing during your time in college, and remember that it is only natural to need a break.