by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Ainít it fun, living in the real world, ainít it fun, being all aloneÖ
Well, these lyrics from the Paramore song Ainít It Fun sound kind of dreary, but the song is actually really good; check it out sometime!
I guess itís something with this time of year, Iím not sure, but it seems to scream for a reminder to lighten up and just have fun... Iíll give the credit and the blame for that to my Papa, who was my inspiration for an article to a similar tune this time last year. These always seem to get pretty serious, so I promise to keep this one a little less intense. As heavy as life can be, thereís lots of ways to keep it light.
Anywho, living in the real world (or on the verge of it, if youíre still in high school) can be as fun or as stressful as we choose. There are so many factors that can pile up and cause a freak-out session, not that Iím speaking from experience... Okay, yeah, I am. My last week or so has been spent calling my mom either with tears in my eyes or more than a little irritation in my heart. Classes are hard enough on their own, but then try to complete two online classes and two independent classes in the first six weeks of the semester, along with keeping up in three live classes. Crazy, right? But when I keep my focus, being finished with those classes will allow me to relax and enjoy our rodeo season a little bit more when weíre gone every weekend through March and into April.
Practice is tough, my teammates can get under my skin, I worry about my horses (and myself) staying healthy, my dog is a troublemaker, I fret over how much time I do and donít spend with my boyfriend, and Iím pretty convinced the farther away I get from my family, the easier it becomes to worry about them rather than roll my eyes about them. (Sorry MomÖ Who, me? Nah, never. I would never roll my eyes at my family.) On top of all of that, Iíll graduate from Mesalands Community College in May, and thatís coming up fast. I donít have many of the answers to What happens next? right at the moment, and thatís definitely inducing some panic for me. The list can be endless if you let it be, which, lately, I have let it be.
SoÖ What do we do about dropping the scowl off our faces? We all know the stereotype that college kids are usually pretty low on funds after they pay for tuition and make sure they eat each week. Although that doesnít always help the matter, thereís a ton of things to do to unwind and have fun without having to spend a whole lot of money. All those posters for campus activities? Try some of them on occasion! Mesalands Community College is really awesome about doing movie nights at the local movie theater Ė old school, one screen place, itís pretty neat Ė where college kids get in for free. Sure makes a Ďbrokeí college kid feel a lot better about buying popcorn and a soda when there was no admission fee! The school also does bowling nights and gives prizes to the top male and female bowler, and those are always fun. Mesalands also does some on-campus activities: the faculty in Student Affairs are really good about keeping track of random festivities like National Coffee Day or National Popcorn Day (with corresponding snacks), and theyíll do treats for Valentineís Day and activities leading up to Christmas break. Keep up with the college activities, and thatís a good way to get at least a short break from the Ďadultingí that life requires!
Follow along in the community as well, and if thereís an event a couple towns away that you think sounds super fun, get a couple of your friends together, plan ahead and save up a little bit, and go!
But what about when nobody has anything planned for you? Then what? Good question. Part of the answer to that depends on you, what you enjoy, and what the people in your circle are like. Hanging out with friends doesnít always mean being wild, despite whatís commonly said about crazy college kids. (On that note, if that scene isnít for you, donít go Ė thereís no shame in that and if you have the courage to stay home, youíll probably spark it in someone else, too, and thatís how you find "your people" when youíre in college. I promise.) Right now, my college rodeo team is big enough that we donít all hang out together all the time, and thatís okay. We hang out with different people pretty regularly, and thereís plenty of us who hang out with kids who arenít on the team, which is a good thing. Something weíve done, though, since last fall, is get some of us together for supper, and usually once the initial invitation is out there, everybody offers to bring something to pitch in, and itís a good time to just relax, talk, and slow down for awhile. Even one-on-one, or a small group rather than the whole womenís rodeo team, can be a good way to unwind.
Fairly simple, right? Hereís the catch: youíve got to choose to allow yourself to have fun with any of those things. You can be at any of those places, or doing any of those things, but if youíre still mentally wound tight, well, itís not going to do you much good.
For example, last week, one of the girls on the team asked me if I wanted to hang out after practice, watch a movie or something. My first response was that I had way too much to do, and I told her no. Another day, I was in the gym with a different teammate, and we usually have a good time working out and pushing each other. That morning, though, I just continued to get more frustrated, and not really for any legitimate reason. On the phone with my mom afterward, she told me that Iíd better get my priorities straight, and that finally shut me up and made me put my head on straight. Instead of stressing and getting irritated, I need to do the best I can with what I have and where Iím at, and have a little fun every now and again. Work hard, play hard, right?
A friend of mine once told me, ďBe where your feet are.Ē If youíre hanging out with friends, quit worrying about your schoolwork as long as you have a plan to get it done. If youíre on a road trip, be in the middle of the experience and let the stress where the trip began. Itíll be lighter when you pick it back up to deal with it. While it might be tough living in the real world sometimes, ainít it fun?
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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