The holiday season as a 20-something-year-old
By Mikaela Delos Santos, Publishing Editor and Emma Duke, Features Editor
Preparing for the holidays is both a stressful but relieving feeling—the shopping for gifts, setting up the Christmas tree, the desire to consume lots of cookies and hot chocolate… But for many university students, the holiday season means late nights at the library, highlighting notes, and preparing for final exams. For some students, it also means having to balance working at their part-time jobs throughout the retail ‘black out week’. This in turn means that a lot of university students get to spend less time with their families.
For those in their early 20s, one of the biggest lessons and realizations we learn from that age is how comforting the idea of being with family is. When we graduate high school at 18, we crave the freedom of letting go from our roots and kin. 18 is when we plan for our future—we start making plans of where we go for university, or which apartment we would like to live in…This is when we think for ourselves and in a way, ‘forget’ our families. The world is our oyster, and we don’t want mom and dad holding us back. When we’re 19 to 22, we try to figure out what university life is like, we find someone we get infatuated with who will end up breaking our hearts, and at the same time try to get our GPA’s to a desirable number.
By 23, we long for our families again. 23 is when adult life hits you. This is when we realize rent is way too expensive, the job market isn’t looking too promising, and that Mom and Dad’s advice makes sense now. It gets pretty overwhelming and so we look for that comfort and nurture once more.
As we cram to hand in our last minute projects on D2L, and consume terrible amounts of caffeine, it’s important to find the time to enjoy our loved ones’ company.
Oftentimes, this is easier said than done, and taking an entire day off from studying or work is rarely doable— if you choose to do it, you might find yourself falling behind, inducing more stress and giving you even less time with your loved ones.
Many students also feel guilty for taking time off—not working on that assignment or studying for a final exam makes you less productive, and, there goes your grade.
When you start to fall into this mindset, there are two important things to remember.
The first is to plan. Block out time for studying, and block out time for loved ones. This will do a few things: firstly, it may make you realize that you have more time than you think—by planning every hour of your day, you may realize where in your day you’re getting distracted or caught up, and you can adjust accordingly.
Secondly, planning will likely make you feel less guilty for taking time off from studying. If you write down “work on English class for 3 hours,” and then that three hours is up, and you’ve allocated another 3 hours for going for lunch with a friend… by going for lunch, you’re not taking time away from studying, you’re simply following your own schedule. You’re allowing yourself to tick something else off your list. How productive of you!
Lastly, it will turn your productive time into uninterrupted work time. You will almost certainly be less distracted when you study. If you’ve written down a few hours to do an assignment and hand it in—the time pressure will get to you. You suddenly feel more inclined to sit down, turn on ‘do not disturb’, and spend these hours in complete and utter focus—you only have three hours to do this!
Planning can reframe the way you think about how much time you have and the way you spend that time; it can eliminate distractions and make you feel less guilty for taking time away.
Reframing your thoughts when it comes to spending time with loved ones can be extremely helpful and even necessary. The guilt of unproductivity gets to all of us, but by telling yourself that in order to perform at your best, rest and connection are not optional, but required, it takes a little bit of weight off.
Sometimes it seems that we have no choice but to put school first. It is unremarkably difficult to balance being a good daughter, student, friend, girlfriend, etc. Remember what will be most important to you later in life—not the grade, but the connections and memories you made.