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Peer blog: Getting excited and learning to drop the ball

Liyi, Engineering, Class of 2024

Whenever people ask me, “Hey, how’s school going?” it is always difficult to explain how I am feeling. My go-to answer is, “It’s busy. It’s so busy, but I’m having a lot of fun.” That statement is technically true, but most of the time, I am not even sure what I mean by saying, “I’m having fun.”

Am I really having fun this semester? That’s complicated. Some things are 100% fun, like going to a theme park, eating dinner with friends, but never would I have imagined calling school “fun.” That being said, school keeps me on my toes, fills up most of my time, and creates a lot of uncertainty (like, for instance, my calculus test being pushed back three weeks because the proctoring apps weren’t working). In my mind, I try to associate this unrest and anxiousness with “fun”. That is how I survive stressful times: I play mind games with myself.

So, within the last few months, I have learned to be excited about things that do not necessarily excite me. I need to hype myself up before doing quizzes, tests, and labs. I tell myself, “This is good. This is fun. You should do it,” and I try to prevent the negative thoughts from forming. If there was anything I would generally groan and complain about before, now I find myself saying, “I need to do this to get a degree. It is something new and exciting.” I think saying these things is good for my mental health. I want to be my own greatest motivator by embracing the unexpected and new challenges school throws at me.

My new quadmester starts next week, and I have two new courses: Earth Systems Engineering and Physics I. My Engineering Practice course from the last quadmester continues into this quad, and so I will still be trying to improve my lab writing. Since my last blog, my reports have been steadily improving, which I am happy about.

Experiencing the end of an old semester and the start of a new one brings stress to the table. I have had to frantically compile and finish last semester’s labs and start learning about next semester’s new courses, all while dealing with clubs and meetings. Like everyone else in school, I am learning to juggle school, work, family life, friends, and clubs, except this time, I am learning when to drop the balls. In high school, I was a pretty good juggler. Now, I am juggling an abundance of plastic balls or glass balls, and there are times where I must drop some.

The author Nora Roberts explains this well. She believes that in life, there are plastic balls to juggle: these are fine when dropped, and just bounce and roll away. There are also glass balls to juggle: when you drop them, they shatter, so we know to prioritize the glass balls. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate whether something is a plastic ball or a glass ball, but that all depends on the person and circumstance.

Last week I missed a team meeting because I was so stressed, but I let my team members know I had done my work beforehand. A few nights ago, I chose to stay home and work on my project rather than doing something fun for Halloween, because the project was more important. My team project was a glass ball, but my fun evening was a plastic ball.

This type of juggling, to me, is a lot harder than juggling in high school. All I had to do in high school was to not let the balls drop to the floor. And that was simple: I did not have many balls to juggle anyway. Now, I am learning about which ball to drop and when to drop it when everything around me seems so chaotic. It is definitely a learning process, and I will not be perfect at it for a long time (and probably never!). Even so, I am glad I’m learning that it’s fine to let certain things go.

You should try thinking about your commitments as glass and plastic balls. Let me know how it goes.

Until next time!

My lists of tasks and due dates