Real talk: I've found my first term classes very difficult, and it's embarrassing for me to admit this. It's been a huge personal challenge trying to distance my worth as a person from my academic success, and the resulting worry has colored this past week.
I reached a point where I spent two hours staring at a blank sheet of paper because I was so overwhelmed about what I couldn't understand or what I might get wrong. Though I logically knew that everyone has difficulties adjusting to college, I isolated myself for a period of time and never felt more helpless.
The next day I vented my frustrations to my adviser. I was exhausted, showing up to the meeting on a sleep deficit and stress surplus. I took three things away from this meeting:
- Health comes first. Sleep and a healthy diet shouldn't be sacrificed for a couple of points on a math problem. Taking a nap or going for a walk to clear your head isn't some heinous waste of potential study time.
- Your professor doesn't think any less of you if your last quiz was a bust, so long as you're asking and learning. Carleton professors care about you as a person, too.
- It's hard to admit our own struggles in front of others. Don't be afraid to seek help from a friend, a professor, or even student counseling if you need it. Though Carleton classes can be tough, the academic environment isn’t competitive. In fact, it's wonderfully supportive.
This was further confirmed by the incredible people I've met here. The staff and students at Carleton are willing to reach out and are fiercely compassionate. Next week I'll be returning to the extracurricular activities I've joined on campus and will make a greater effort to take breaks to hang out and talk with friends.
I know I would have faced the freshman academic jitters anywhere, but I’m very glad and very fortunate I'm experiencing them at Carleton.