The Self-Care Backlash

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Between classes, homework, jobs, and more, student life is busy. Not only is finding time for yourself (self-care) difficult, but it isn’t prioritized. Even though self-care is all over the media these days, actually implementing it can be received with scorn. I encountered this when I began to shift my personal schedule around to make time for myself more of a priority.

Exercise is my version of self-care. Swimming and running are my main stress relievers and my form of meditation. I especially love training for long-distance races, because it’s time and effort I put in just for my personal achievement. When I signed up for a half marathon in May, one of my extracurricular groups knew and saw it as a conflict of commitment. They tried to guilt me out of it even though I had carefully planned my schedule to have time for everything. They completely overlooked and undermined how important is was to me. 

I didn’t anticipate that training for this race—something done for myself—would be met with such backlash, especially from people it really didn’t affect. Oftentimes I think it’s easy to forget that people are multifaceted with several interests, and that we’re all trying to find the mix of interests that make us the happiest.

Remember to Watch Your Back

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the most detrimental things to our personal safety is having a complacent attitude. It’s very easy to believe that if something hasn’t happened to you that you have some sort of immunity. For instance, my six-foot-tall stature gave me a false sense of security because I thought it would make any creeper think twice about coming after me. I quickly learned this isn’t true, and luckily, I didn’t learn it through something awful actually happening to me.

I was walking to Safeway over the weekend when I passed a man who I’d seen at the PSU library a couple days earlier. I didn’t think anything of it until he began running at me and yelling, asking if I wanted to be friends and that he “saw me hanging in the library the other night.” The fact that he recognized me was definitely unnerving. Another day, I was walking home from class when a man acted like he was going to attack me. He very intentionally and aggressively lunged at me. Instantly, some of my old self-defense lessons seemed to emerge from deep within. I put my arms up to block his lunge, and I was in a fighting stance when he just scampered off.

Both of these events happened in broad daylight with other people around me. These oddballs probably didn’t even mean me any “real” harm—but it was weird. Of course, these instances aren’t unique to me or Portland, and I strongly believe everyone should know some self-defense. PSU offers a one credit self-defense class, and I’m excited to be taking it next term. I think I’ll also start lifting again—if being tall isn’t intimidating anymore, maybe some bulging biceps will do the trick.

Introversion Conversion: I’m Social Now

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the lessons I’ve come across being an RA is that you really have to invest time into growing and maintaining relationships. In order to build community amongst my residents, it tookprogramming and being intentionally present in the halls to support them. At the same time, being an RA would be incredibly lonely and hard without the trust and camaraderie of my staff team. While there’s always our weekly staff meeting to look forward to, it’s the time we spend with one another outside of the “job” that really brings us together. With so many new people in my life, I feared that I was letting my old friends slide to the back burner. It would be easy to let the RA role consume my life, but making time for the friends who have supported me since the beginning keeps me grounded.

I’ve been an introvert my entire life. Any time I spent socializing meant I needed an equal amount of time alone—if not more—in order to recharge. Balancing so many social groups started off as overwhelming and exhausting. Now, I’ve noticed that being around my friends and peers energizes me—even if I go days without snagging some alone time. Even though being an RA can be stressful, there’s no denying that I’m much more openly appreciative of the people I have in my life because of it. Still, I’m an introvert at heart. I have those days where I don’t want to see another human soul, but those days are now few and far between.

Go Homemade For Heartfelt Gifts

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Years ago, my mom started a tradition where everyone our family has to make a homemade Christmas gift for someone. At Thanksgiving, we draw names to see who has who. I didn’t think much of the tradition when I was younger; it was just something extra I had to do. I eventually saw the value in exchanging something homemade, but moving away from home and starting college made me really appreciate it.

Like any student, I always feel short on time. Making gifts can be so time consuming—yet I’ve found I’m always more excited to gift something I made than something I just went out and bought. Plus, knowing how difficult it can be for me to find the time to sit down and make a gift makes me appreciate receiving one all that much more. Money is replaceable, but time isn’t.

When it comes to homemade gifts, there’s no competition. It’s simply the fact that someone is willing to spend their time on making a gift that makes the receiver feel special. On top of that, homemade gifts don’t have to look or be perfect because regardless, you’re giving something away that’s absolutely unique.

RA’s Face the Pros and Con(frontation)s

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Confrontation is an art form. Like any artistic ability, some people just have an innate knack for it. Others work at it until they seem like naturals all, and some try it out only to decide it’s just not their thing.

A year ago, I definitely would’ve fallen into the latter category. This year, however, I’m a Resident Assistant (RA), and conflict is an inherent part of my job. Confrontation was definitely one of my biggest fears coming into this job, but so far I’ve gained an appreciation for it and new confidence in my approach. Of course, RAs go through training on conflict resolution, but the most valuable training happens on the job. Being an RA has forced me to live—on the daily—outside of my comfort zone. Not only have I had to act as the confronter, but also as a facilitator for residents confronting others to resolve issues internally.

Even though being an RA has given me more confidence in dealing with conflict, that’s in no way saying I look forward to it in the slightest. The only secret I can let you in on about RAs is that we hate confrontation as much as anyone else; we just have to hide it.

 

Work to Know the Value of Education

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

I live among the rolling hills of the Palouse in northern Idaho. Come August, those hills look like golden seas filled with wheat, barley, and legumes. The past four years, I’ve worked at a scale house during harvest. My experience there has been one of the most impactful on my life and character.

Once harvest begins, I’m in the scale house at least 13 hours a day nearly all week. I take samples from every truck that comes in and run moisture, protein, and falling numbers tests on different commodities. With these samples, I keep track of each farmer’s opening and closing of lots and send their composite samples out for grade. On the busiest days, I rarely have the chance to sit down or sometimes even eat. After all, I’m servicing over 100 trucks every day, and they have to come across the scale twice—once full, and once empty.

Many people don’t realize how stressful and exhausting this time of year is for the farmers and harvest workers alike. My job requires my mental acuity to always be sharp because of the amount of paperwork I handle, but it isn’t nearly the most physically demanding job. The employees dumping trucks full of crops into the pits are in 90-to-100-degree heat, surrounded by dust. They also shovel out bins. When I start to feel like complaining about my job, I only have to remember I have air conditioning.

College students are no strangers to summer jobs, and one of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained from mine is a value for education. Harvest can be grueling, and while I love it—I love it as a summer job. The overtime pays great, but it isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life. So, even though I can’t say I’m looking forward to another term of homework and tests, I only need to remind myself of the future career I’m working toward.

Awestruck by the Eclipse

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

The most important and surprisingly difficult challenge I took on this summer was convincing my parents to go see the solar eclipse. To me, it was an obvious once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the path of totality would pass just four hours south of us in Idaho. Eventually my badgering won out, and we found ourselves camped out in Cascade, Idaho, waiting with thousands of other people for the big event.

There are no words to describe how amazing the total solar eclipse was. Watching the moon slip into place, I realized why even 99% totality is only as awesome as 90% or 70%. If any part of the sun is visible, you still need to wear solar glasses because it’s too bright to look at. One hundred percent totality, however, was the single most awe-inspiring and beautiful thing I’ve seen. No picture or description can do it justice. In those first moments, I was so taken aback and humbled by what I saw that a chill swept over me. A flock of birds flew into a nearby tree to roost. Venus twinkled off to the side, and the barest hint of a couple stars poked through the ecliptic darkness. In 1 minute and 55 seconds, the sun made its reappearance. My first thoughts when the sun’s rays began cascading out from behind the moon were, “I have to see it again!” And since I couldn’t reach out and shove the moon back into place, I decided I’ll just have to be an eclipse chaser. The next one in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024.

If I missed this eclipse, I wouldn’t have understood what the big deal about it was. As I searched for pictures of the eclipse online, I realized none of them captured what I saw. Even the best cameras distorted the light or made everything too dark. All in all, a total solar eclipse is not something you can relive through a lens; it must be experienced.