What Break Really Feels Like

If you're a student, you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

You could be watching a great movie on your couch, walking your dog, having an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with your family, Black Friday shopping at the mall, even taking a nap, and it hits you. 

It blankets your mind like rumbling dark clouds rolling in on a perfect day, brewing up a storm that is sure to be a big one. 

This storm is what I like to call "Obligations and Responsibilities as a College Student" that I like to pretend to ignore as if they somehow do not exist on a break. At the end of the day, unfortunately, I couldn't be more wrong, and this is the storm that brews in my mind even when I am away from my studies. 

Finals Exams, regular exams, quizzes, lab reports, 10-page papers, research, etc. on top of time spent with the family I don't get to see that often and the personal time that I like for myself to write, take photos, and really be present in the City of Cleveland. Not to mention al of the friends that want to grab lunch or dinner with you, go to an art show, visit the lake, go shopping, see a movie etc. because we're all young adults now and apparently adults like to schedule lunches with their old friends...anyway. This is a lot to juggle, if when you have a five-day "break".

I put "break" in quotations because this is something that I think about a lot. It's great that I don't have to actively go to class, but if your professors are like mine, you know that there is much more work to be done outside of the classroom that just so happens to be due the second we step back onto campus, it seems like. What it all comes down to in the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that I need to do when I'm home. When you're spending time with friends and family that you miss so much, it an be hard to break away from that feeling of what it's like to be "Home Sweet Home" and say "Okay it's time to study for those three exams that I have on Tuesday," or "Sorry Dad, I can't watch this movie with you right now, and Mom, I won't be able to help you with the pies this year, I've got a lot of work to do." These can be hard for both you and your family, and it's not unusual to be a little sad about it. 

In an attempt to harness the feelings of like-minded individuals on their experiences over break, I conducted a social media poll asking two questions:

1) On a scale of 1-4, how much academic stress are you feeling /have you felt over break?
Of the 27 total responses, 44% voted (4), 22% voted (2), 19% voted (3), and 15% voted (1)

2) If you're busy, does your family/friends understand that you may have t cut back on time with them to focus on school work?
Of the 13 responses total, 54% said "Yes" and 46% said "No"

Although this wasn't a huge survey it gave me an idea that I am not the only person subconsciously being bombarded with my obligations and constantly putting them off with my amazing procrastination skills. With the first question, an overwhelming amount of people voted (4) which indicates the maximum stress one could feel about their school work, which is where I would put myself on the scale. I asked the second question because there is always someone a little upset that we can't hang out as much over break because I am busy, and that usually comes from them not understanding what's on my schedule really. This vote was split almost 50/50, so maybe this is something that varies between family and friends. 

Anyway, all of this aside, the main issue over any break can be managing your time wisely between the massive amount of work that you have and the important time that you spend with your loved ones. I try not to devalue the little moments that I spend with my mom and dad because I know how hard they work to even put me through school.

Taking time for myself to relax usually consists of me getting enough sleep (but not too much because that is just as deadly as too little), eating well (because nothing beats a FREE home-cooked meal), and working on my photography and writing a little more. Most of my photography at the moment is centered around the City of Cleveland itself, and it's  therapeutic activity for me because I get to unwind in a place that I am familiar with. It's a major aspect of the "recharge" aspect of any academic break for me, and activities that reconnect you with your home are one of the big suggestions that I'd give if you do anything other than hang out with your dog all break (not that there's anything wrong with that, I love dogs).

The biggest challenge for me right now is fighting the Procrastination Police, you know the little voices in your head that roll up just as you decide to something productive and say, "It can all wait until the last minute, don't worry about it." Yeah. Those guys. With one more day left in my break, I'm hoping to reconnect with my duties as a student, and make a smooth transition into this long week to come. 

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