That time again.

 Lots of people are heading back to school, me included. It's this time of year that I'm always pumped up about getting things done and doing awesome in all my classes. This usually only lasts a week or two before the work load is so heavy that I just want to cry a lot. That's when I tend to start procrastinating and pretending like I don't have 17 homework assignments to do. Every semester I tell myself things will be different, but it's easy to fall back into bad habits.

Like with anything, if you give yourself a set of rules that are super strict and perhaps a little difficult to obey right off the bat, the moment you break one of them you feel like you have failed, and instead of trying again, maybe give up all together. Maybe that's just me.

I've worked hard to figure out what I can do to succeed in college these last few years. Somethings I've tried had failed. Others have been so helpful that I've tried to incorporate them into my everyday life. I feel like this is the perfect time to share some of the tools and resources that have either put me or kept me on the right track in these last 3 years of school.

One of the things that has helped me with my study habits is understanding how I learn. There are many online tests for categorizing how you view and learn from the world. Take one, or maybe a few, be honest, and think about the results. The big thing to keep in mind is that you aren't going to be given the guide to perfect studying (something I was hoping for when I was first introduced to the idea).

The things I remember best are events I've taken part in. Sitting and reading a text, while interesting at the time, isn't going to stick with me long enough for me to be tested on it. If I can related it to some event, or, say, join my friends in acting out how the Diels-Alder mechanism works, it sticks with me forever. Everyone is different, and that is 100% okay. There is no magic guide to studying or learning. You have to write the guide for yourself.

Once you figure out how to study and learn in a way best for you, even knowing the materials, a situation where you are tested on them may be so scary that everything that was just in your brain is suddenly gone. I had major problems with this early on in college. Test anxiety was actually something I sought professional for to overcome. Seeing someone to talk me through my problem didn't really help, and I only ended up going to two sessions. I was again looking for a magic cure, someone to tell me exactly what I needed to do to fix my problem. It wasn't until I decided to figure out why for myself, and made a serious effort to get over it, that a change happened.

One of the things I realized at that point, was that I was telling myself that I was going to do poorly. Even if I didn't say it out loud, the nagging thoughts would be there, preventing me from doing well. I've realized that self-imposed mental blocks are often the only things keeping us from success. When people talk about how they aren't good at things because they were unsuccessful once, well, that's turned into a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

You can't tell yourself you are bad at math, for example. Sure, perhaps it isn't your forte, but so many people say they can't do math because of a bad experience with a math class many years ago. Actually, the stigma about math seems to rub off onto people who've never actually had a bad experience, and suddenly everyone hates math. You aren't bad at math, you just haven't learned it in a way compatible to you. Sure, you may be better at other things or other things may come more naturally, but you can't tell yourself that you will never add again. That is what I was doing to myself with exams. but I got over it. School is so much about playing a mind game with yourself, it's almost silly. Which brings me back to the 17 assignments I pretend that I don't have to do.

I can't tell myself right now that this semester is going to be totally different than all previous. I'm not going to set myself rules that dictate that I never work on an assignment on the day it's due or that I must start one the day it is assigned or that I will study this class at these times every week. Rules like those (all of which I've set for myself in the past) don't work for me. I've learned this, and I won't be making the same mistakes twice.

I'm not setting myself rules this semester. I'm going to do my work and study hard, but not try to make it seem like I have to force myself. It will be alright for me to have some fun, it's okay to take a break, and I'm going to do so regularly so that I don't feel the need to push aside all work because I'm feeling overworked. It's going to be a difficult balance, but I'm not going to stress out about it. That's my goal this semester: I'm not going to stress myself out about it, I'm just going to get it done. I've got the tools and the skills and the time, and I've got nothing to worry about.

RAWRS & Sugar Cubes,

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