No Time Like The Present

By: Adair Bingham

Every year, people find themselves trying to implement egotistic New Year’s resolutions and self-betterment plans to try and work on themselves and encourage their loved ones to attempt to do the same. Many of these half-baked resolutions fall through during the first few months of the New Year, often earlier, and then quickly become the elephant in the room. Nobody likes admitting failure, and thus they simply move on with their lives and find it better to ignore their half-hearted attempts at what could’ve been a fulfilling resolution.

With a new decade upon us, I think that it’d be best for us (especially those caught in awkward, transitional periods of life) to commit to at least one resolution: self-care. We can ease off of those often strict and overly harsh regulations that we put onto ourselves and focus on improving ourselves at our own pace. By acknowledging the importance of accepting life’s challenges at your own pace, the world suddenly becomes a lot easier to navigate.

Everywhere I look, both in the real world and online, I find hordes of people preaching about the importance of self-care and self-acceptance, but no one ever actually seems to follow through with what they wax poetic about. If you’re going to rhapsodize about the inherent beauty of performing self-care and practicing self-acceptance, then, at the very least, acknowledge that it is not a simple one-step process to self-love. It’s a long, conflicting, and often confusing journey that will take an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and effort to achieve. To put it bluntly; it’s a horrifically ugly and often lonely undertaking, but in doing so, an entirely new world can be discovered.

So, as we all welcome a decade into our lives, let’s all try our best to prioritize our mental health and well-being, and understand that that there is no wrong way to lead your life. By simply doing things at your very own pace, you are succeeding and advancing, and that’s all there is to it.

Turning Over a New Leaf

Last spring was the first time I’d had a backyard since moving to Portland. Packed away in my boxes from California, I found a large seed bundle that my mother had gifted me before I left, carefully protected from moisture in a plastic bag. She always enjoyed gardening and my fond memories of stuffing my cheeks like a squirrel with sun-warmed tomatoes as a child compelled me to try gardening myself. I also love to cook, which was another incentive to have fresh herbs and veggies at my disposal. 

My first plants were started on the windowsill in an egg carton, lovingly labelled with popsicle sticks. The soil wasn’t nearly as deep as it should have been, and they dried out quickly, the popsicle sticks becoming a little moldy when I overwatered. As a perfectionist that does not often start a new hobby, I was absolutely devastated. My maternal feelings that I’d poured into these little plants were severely hurt. 

My partner helped me research what I’d done wrong and gather more information like how much water I really should be giving them, how much space and light the seedlings need and that I should use plastic markers instead of wood. I invested in a grow light and proper seed trays with a good, organic starting mix. I was able to find about fifty pots of various sizes on the neighborhood app Nextdoor for free. 

My second attempt went incredibly well! I figured all of this out a bit late in the season, so my plants grew big but didn’t really produce anything. I still got some herbs out of it, though, and the knowledge about what to do this upcoming spring! As soon as it’s warm enough outside, I’ll be ready to go! 

It was an incredible feeling to watch the shoots poke through the soil, and like my tomato plant, grow into a massive thing that came from a little seed. I would often take my phone calls outside and pull up a chair next to the plant, rubbing a stem between my fingers to elicit that addictive smell. I may not be perfect at gardening, and I probably never will be. In that way, it’s a good hobby for someone like me to have.

New Term, New Goals

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Going through pictures from this last term showed me that I have fallen out of touch with some friends. I consoled myself by thinking this hadn’t happened purposely, but more out of necessity with our busy schedules. I spent Fall term trying to find a new balance between my personal and academic life. My classes were harder than in previous years, and I was also keeping more active than ever.

I recognize now that I didn’t prioritize my social life as much as I had in the past. I tended to hang out with friends who were the most convenient travel-wise. This realization made me feel like a terrible person, especially since the friends I’d lost touch with are mainly those who had graduated. As someone who’s graduating this year, this is exactly the trap I want to avoid and I fear falling into it.

 My goal this term is to reconnect with those friends and focus on strengthening my outreach skills—even if it’s just a quick message to touch base. I’m definitely one to be easily wrapped up in school and my own busy life, but I realize more than ever the effort required to maintain important friendships even if they present new challenges for keeping in touch.

A Degree of Suffering

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When I was a freshman, my pride in double majoring in math and quantitative economics held rank over my actual happiness. I didn’t go into college with the intention of double majoring, but quantitative economics and math overlapped so well I just thought, “Well, why not?” I was absolutely miserable, but I figured temporary misery was a solid trade for the salary I’d be making with my majors down the road. 

Halfway through my junior year, I had an epiphany: I hated economics with a burning passion. Math piqued my curiosity; economics did not. Math challenged me in a way I found rewarding, and economics was just boring. The more I thought about the future, the more I realized that I would hate my entire life if I pursued a career in economics.

Even with this realization, I still felt trapped by my freshman-year decision. I had poured over two years worth of time, energy, and tuition into two majors, and it would be wasteful to quit. My mind was going in circles, which prompted a phone call home to my parents. I had become so paralyzed by my pride that I had not considered a solution that my dad pointed out—minoring in Econ.

Sure, I wouldn’t be able to say I was double majoring anymore, but my suffering would be over. Plus, my previous coursework would not go to waste. Sometimes in moments of high stress, we need to seek out other perspectives because it’s too easy to get wrapped up in our own heads and lose sight of the bigger picture. I made the switch immediately, and it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made in college.

A Major Change

By Erika Nelson

Since childhood, literature, writing, and media have been my biggest passions. I assumed that if I went to college, I’d major in English. However, with near-constant articles and reports warning of a difficult job market, I began to question whether English was a good choice. After extensive advice from well-meaning people, I assumed a business degree was the “safe” route to gainful employment after graduation. Business, after all, is a multidisciplinary degree — it has applications in virtually every field, and can lead to a variety of exciting (and potentially lucrative) careers. I was planning to minor in business anyway, so what would be the harm in swapping my anticipated major and minor? 

As the fall term marched on, I found myself deeply unhappy — I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the “wrong” place. I finally came to the hard truth that an intensive education in business simply wasn’t for me. 

I’d made my choice out of fear; chased a hypothetical future salary that would allow me to quickly repay loans. What was the point of pursuing a degree if my only purpose was to pay off that degree? Next term, I return to my original plan — an English major with a business minor. This decision … it feels right. There is certainly nothing wrong with majoring in business if that’s what you want to do — but I had to learn through experience that it wasn’t for me, in order to make the right choice.

The Other Side of the Tutoring Table

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

Today marks my 10th week of working in the PSU Learning Center, and I can say without hesitation that it’s the best job I’ve ever had. If you haven’t heard of the Learning Center, check it out! It’s a free service for PSU students and offers academic coaching and tutoring in nearly all subjects. You can visit on the second floor of the library…and be sure to come say hi if you do!

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Photo copyright The Learning Center. Psst…I’m on the left!

When I was in College Algebra, my required math course, I pretty much lived in the Learning Center. See, I’m a French major…which means I’m good with languages, but not-so-good with numbers. I became familiar with the student side of the tutoring table (and it saved my grade!) It was a completely different experience being the tutor, but one that I find extremely enjoyable and fulfilling.

Being the French tutor has allowed me to help other students learn this amazing language. I’ve gotten to help with verb conjugation, adjective agreement, conversation practice, and more…all of which has improved my own knowledge of the subject. If I don’t know the answer to a question, then the student and I get to learn together. It brings me immense happiness when the lightbulb goes on for somebody, or the way I explain a concept helps them understand it.

Tutoring can seem scary if you’re unfamiliar with it. But trust me, tutors are nothing more than fellow students who want to help you learn. There’s nothing scary about me, an overexcited French nerd. So come by the Learning Center and say bonjour, or guten tag, or whatever your greeting of choice may be. We’ll be happy to welcome you!

A Novel Concept

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I recall really starting to get into it as a hobby around the sixth grade. I keenly remember being confident that I’d have at least one novel done by the time I was eighteen, maybe twenty if I was busy as an adult. It definitely makes me laugh to look back on my perspective at that point! My dream career has always been to be a therapist, but I really want to pursue my writing on the side, and being a novelist in the future is an important part of my identity.

     I’ve entertained several different novel ideas, but the first one I settled to work on has been time-consuming, stressful, and tough. But I’m so in love with the process and project. Crafting a story that has strong female characters, a complex setting that tackles tough issues, and equally funny and heartbreaking moments is one of the best things in the world to work on.  I’m about fifty thousand words into what I’m aiming to be a hundred thousand word first draft. It feels really weird to be so far into a project, as I’ve written many short stories but never something this long and complex. The biggest challenge is finding the time and energy to work on it. Sometimes, I have unorthodox weeks where I write ten thousand words, and sometimes weeks go by with nothing new. Often, my time to write is after I get home and after a long day of classes, work, and sports, I’ve still got to do homework and make dinner. I’m usually drained. It’s tough, as I remember wanting to be done with my first novel at eighteen, and I’m twenty-one and only halfway through the first draft. But I’m persistent and trying to be more realistic about my time and energy. I’m passionate about it and know that I’ll get there eventually! I’ve got a couple other novel ideas now, and even tried competing in a writing competition again for the first time in years, and my success has been really encouraging. Hopefully you’ll see my books on the shelves one day!