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New Year’s resolutions for the struggling university student

By Aymen Sherwani, January 17 2022

Everyone has a New Year’s resolution after the festive period winds down to an end and the start of the year is always a great opportunity for a fresh start. Stereotypical resolutions already exist and are likely a quick Google search away, but this time around, everyone — especially students — should be looking inwards. University being back in full swing is already going to be stressful as is, so here are three resolutions to consider when it comes to taking care of yourself for a change.

Looking after yourself without feeling guilty

As students, anything that isn’t geared towards productivity often triggers a guilt response in our heads that makes us feel like we aren’t worthwhile or are inherently doing something wrong by simply cutting ourselves a break for once. That could range from sleeping in, going out with your friends, buying fresh produce over cheaper, non-perishable foods or even just refilling a prescription that you know you need, despite it being expensive. We often convince ourselves that we need to prove to ourselves that we are worthwhile in order for our basic needs to be met and convince ourselves that these aren’t things that impact our overall well-being. Well, they do, and something that no one will tell you when you’re young is that the rat race is endless and it will not stop and wait for you, regardless of your mental and physical health — you need to actively demand time, space and love for yourself. 

This year, rather than fitting the struggling student archetype, choose to be unapologetically happy and stop listening to the little voice in your head telling you that you should be having a bad time. Make the time and space for yourself to thrive because it’s what you deserve. I suggest taking the time to make a “kill list” of all the things that you’ve been holding off on — the unattainable goals that you said you would get to, but because of guilt, they seem to be up in the air. Get that dental cleaning done.  Schedule mandatory naps for yourself. Anything. Everyone should make 2023 the year where they understand that wellness is more than just a sheet mask and a matcha latte — it’s a mindset where you’re actively dismantling the structures that exist in your mind that tell you that you’re less worthwhile if you’re taking the time to prioritize yourself for once. 

Becoming your own advocate

Everyone’s seen the saying “stand up for yourself because no one else will” circulating social media for years to the point where seeing something like that is just a part of mindless scrolling now. I’d like to change that. To be clear, everyone is an individual and that means that everyone will choose themselves first, so you should never allow yourself to stand by and be harmed as a consequence of someone else’s selfishness. Only you can set the standards for the type of treatment that you deserve in your academic, professional and personal lives. Did a professor that has shown a clear dislike for you in the past grade you in a way you feel is unfair? Don’t just take it with a smile — dispute it and explain your case kindly. Does the not-so-savoury professor think being questioned is disrespectful? Speak to the dean. Speak to the Student Ombuds Office. Workplace microaggressions? Don’t fake laugh and be passive — report it to HR or whichever independent board presides over the management in your place of work and hold people accountable, especially if it’s negatively impacting your life. 

While this can become a little difficult in our personal lives, especially when it comes to family and friends — upholding personal boundaries has never been more important. From personal experience, toxic family members will always tell you that “family will always look out for you,” while not exactly walking that walk or having the best intentions for you. Do not let the fact that they are family or a long-time friend prevent you from communicating your needs or cutting ties with them if needed, as it is often the case that people are more reckless with your feelings if they assume the bond between you two is unbreakable. 

Heal your create-consume dynamic

A create-consume dynamic is what I like to call the balance between the act of giving out into the world and the act of being on the receiving end of that creation. I believe every action in the world is either of the two. When the scales tip on either side of the spectrum, our lives become dysfunctional. Do you have a video game, TikTok scrolling and binge-eating addiction that keeps you awake until 5 a.m. for no apparent reason? Are you finding that you have no time to focus on making something as a product of your own individuality? A hobby perhaps? You have an excess of consumption and may need to consider the negative impacts of constantly being on the receiving end of the things that make you happy. I would suggest trying to make other people happy for a change and see how that makes you feel on the inside. That could look like starting to volunteer at a charity of your choice on the weekends, practicing acts of service for your loved ones or simply being mindful. 

Alternatively, someone who simply cannot stop cleaning, studying, cooking, taking longer hours at work and doing absolutely anything to avoid the dreaded “reactional time” may suffer from an excess of creation. Here, I would also suggest mindfulness. Take the time to understand why you struggle to be alone with yourself and for yourself for once. Both people struggle in their own ways — both would either likely hate each other or date, or both. What I think is important at the end of the day is acknowledging that too much or too little of anything is harmful.

This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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