Riverside sunset
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Pleasant, calming sunset in the south!

This past winter term was filled with pleasant surprises. I formed new connections with some amazing people that I know I'll never forget. Academics were rigorous, but I loved the challenge that continually stood before me. A mix of personal obligations and deadlines put a strain on my mental health. Looking back, I wouldn't change a single part of what I went through because I know the events that happened over the past few months are meant to teach me a lesson. I woke up each morning with a different time on my alarm clock, went to bed at drastically different times, and found myself mentally wandering throughout the day. A simple solution to many of the problems I faced during winter term could have been sticking to a daily routine.

Just to give you some insight into my personality, I've always adopted the mindset of taking control of everything in my life. It has worked out pretty darn well for me up until this point. What I've begun to realize over the past few weeks is that there are many things you can't have direct control over. It's a dangerous thing to try and take the reigns on all aspects of your life. If you're like me, then you try to analyze all the different outcomes of certain situations and act like you're in the driver's seat. This mindset has been truly detrimental to my mental health over the past few months. I think a huge aspect of maturing in life is realizing there are only a handful of things that you are truly in control of. In the vast scheme of life, you are powerless. You are responsible for prioritizing the happiness and mental success of yourself and those you love, and beyond that, you can't control the flow of the universe. My uncle put it eloquently, "In life, you can't let the tail wag the dog." That's just my case, I've let life live me instead of living my own life.

That's a bit much, but let me give you a few examples of what I'm talking about. During winter term, when I would be preparing for some kind of exam or paper, I would tell myself, "You can only be satisfied if you get an A- or higher, anything lower than that and you don't meet your standards." The dangerous part of this statement comes with me believing I am in total control of the grade I would receive on that assignment. In reality, I should be saying, "I will study for a minimum of 3 hours per day leading up to this exam, and I will do the best on it and that's all I can hope for." This is an attainable goal. It's what I can control. Something I compare this to is my fishing life. Often, I will set goals for myself during the beginning of the year like, "I challenge myself to catch a 10-pound bass this summer." Is that a realistic, attainable goal that I could achieve? Sure. Do I have immediate control over that outcome? Nope, not at all. Again, what I should be saying is, "I challenge myself to make time to go fishing at least five times per month this summer." That is an immediate goal that I can control. One more example: If I text a friend to hang out with me or study with me that night, and the response is "no," I immediately assume there is something I can do to change that, or they said no because they don't want to be around me. I think that's another problem that stems from assuming I'm in control of everything in my life, and this isn't true. In reality, I should understand that people have lives and commitments and it's never personal.

I think the issues I've outlined to you thus far can be combatted by adopting a routine and incorporating a mindset that prioritizes my mental health and one that helps me think logically. Here, I am going to formally challenge myself to adopt a morning routine that consists of meditation, contemplation, and physical/mental exercise. That way, I can digest the upcoming day already prioritizing things in my immediate control. I believe this will be revolutionary for me. I haven't done anything like this before, but it starts the morning of Monday, March 28th, 2022 – the start of spring term. I will take a few sentences during each of my blog posts this upcoming term to hold myself accountable to maintain this routine. I know you all will stick with me.

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