Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty-one Years of Service to the Student


Stress in the First Year

As I sat down to look over my calendar, I suddenly realized that I was supposed to attend a first-year forum—my seemingly last chance to get advice on how to participate in civic engagement. At the same time, I needed to focus on my readings for my first-year seminar.

Since I could barely understand what the textbook was saying, I desperately needed time to digest my readings. If I attended the forum, I would lose time. This fact made my already complicated thoughts more agonizing, and I started to panic.

Here are the two concerns I had: What is wrong with my reading ability and what should I do in this limited time? By each tick of the clock, I became increasingly stressed

Sure, I could struggle to analyze the situation and make a rational choice. That, however, is management by the book, not a reality. Reconciling this dilemma, as emotional as I was, would have been even more stressful.

So I did what any rational person would do when faced with these responsibilities: I ended up ditching both events and headed to the racquetball center. I adopted more positive mindsets, or, what I call the “Be Good” mindset and “Get Better” mindset.

The “Be Good” mindset is when you discover and prove to yourself that you have lots of abilities; the “Get Better” mindset appears when you develop your ability and learn new skills.

As I repeatedly hit the racquetball, adopting a “Be Good” mindset proved that I could concentrate well, and I wasn’t getting stressed by time passing by. My “Get Better” mindset encouraged me with the thought that my annotation skill has relatively improved compared to last week.

These mindsets taught me to rely on routines and follow through the motions. When adopting these mindsets I find myself thinking, “do what makes you happy right now.” Sometimes we are concerned about our vague future prospects or undecided majors, but enjoying studying makes it easier.

Comparing yourself to who you were yesterday leads you to experience far less stress while staying motivated. Sometimes all this takes is a physically intensive game of racquetball. But, the most important mindset I learned that evening was this: I felt happy, and I finished my assignments with less stress.

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Stress in the First Year