Where I am in the world, August is back to school month. Regardless of your age and grade level, it's the time of the year where our summer vacations and festivities are coming to an end. There's a diverse range of emotions and thoughts that flood individuals as they go back to school shopping or look forward to reuniting with old friends and making new ones. There are new classes, new teachers or professors, and inevitably more work!
For students, there may be this conscious pressure to put their best foot forward (literally) in how they dress or how they show up to school socially. There are stressors and anxious thoughts concerning how they will be received, or if they'll fit into the various cultures of their schools, colleges and universities.
For college students, you may be trying to figure out the transition from being home and maybe not as hands-on in decision making to now managing all of the new independence. Maybe finances are something you now have to think about and manage for the first time in your life. Oh! I cannot forget the pressure to do well and excel academically while finding your place within organizations on campus.
*deep breath* Do not get overwhelmed while reading this. The point is, while this month can be exciting (new beginnings!!!), many do not address the mental and emotional components that are impacted by these new beginnings.
Everyone's path is different and there's not enough space to speak to everyone's journey. However, I want to send some love, encouragement and tips to you all!
Your value does not come from what you DO, but simply who you are. You made it this far in your educational journey because you are valuable and you have great things to offer this world. Do not forget that.
Be patient with yourself. You may find your rhythm of school and somewhere along the year, you realize you may have to reassess your rhythm. THAT IS MORE THAN OKAY! Take a step back, regroup and journey on!
Take a chance on yourself! What you have to offer is enough. Academic settings have aided in this competitive culture, and reinforce systemic barriers, sometimes making students feel intimidated to show up fully. Show up anyway.
Give yourself permission to release ways of thinking, feeling and being that do not aid in your development. It's okay to challenge what you may have been trained to think is "normal".
Give yourself permission to say no. NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE.
Do not be afraid to ask for help! You are not a burden.
Looking for some tangible tools to help you this year?
Journal! Check in with yourself. How are you doing, and why? How did your day or week go? What was a win this week? What did you learn, in and out of the classroom? What are you grateful for?
Buy a planner!! If you're anything like me, you may need to look at something tangible to help you organize your life. Being organized can help you reduce stress.
Find your village! Having relationships with people you can get through the school year with that aid in your success is vital.
Utilize the counseling and psychological services at your college or university, if needed.
Feed yourself! Read books, watch videos or listen to podcasts that challenge you, encourage you and nourish your soul and spirit.
Here's a podcast to start with - College by Her: The Podcast. *I don't publicize anything I do not do or listen to myself.* College by Her: The Podcast is an extension of College by Her, LLC, founded by Phylicia Jasmin, LMSW. It's designed to be a community discussing all things college and culture. The podcast takes a holistic approach to giving young ladies advice and resources to help them succeed in college. You can find Phylicia Jasmin dropping gems weekly on iTunes and Podbean.
If you have any additional tools to share with students, feel free to share in the community! It's better when we do this together.
I am rooting for you, always!
Diamond James, MSW, LCWSA