Exploring New Territory
As this is my last semester, I wanted to use my time wisely. I wanted to explore different ways I can apply my artistic ideas to other forms of art. I have always found myself in the world of music and then high school happened and I started to open up the world of theater. Coming here, that was further amplified. Even when those two worlds collided, I wanted to perform, I didn’t wanna do anything else. However, I have always had a keen interest in directing and actually creating a work from an idea, to a vision, to the real thing. So, I finally decided to do something about it and register for a film production class.
Leaving Hustle Culture Behind
Over this past winter break, I really struggled with having nothing to do.
For the weeks leading up to it, I was spending almost every second I could finishing projects and studying for finals. Then, it all just stopped.
I spent most of my days rereading old books, playing games on my phone, or watching tons of movies back-to-back. And every day that I did this I told myself “you’ll start doing stuff tomorrow.”
I had plans to go to the gym, to start writing essays for new scholarships, and to go to the store. But every day I felt so exhausted I couldn’t convince myself to leave the house.
It was hard for me to accept that staying on the couch was probably best for me. College kept me on a routine, and every day that I worked made me feel productive. But the work piled on quickly and felt overwhelming, and I never gave myself a second to rest.
By the time winter break came, I was completely drained.
It all came from this assumption that work is the only form of productivity. When I have a long day of classes or spend hours in the library until most of my class work is done, I feel like I couldn’t have spent the day any better.
Yet when I accomplish the same amount of class work while waking up at noon, I perceive the day as already being over, if not “ruined.”
I attribute much of this attitude towards the hustle culture promoted on social media, where people romanticize their 9-5s, business trips, and all-nighters of studying, and they never forget to include the dozen chores they completed in the same day.
This lifestyle balance is no doubt impressive, but it pushes the narrative that work is the only way to have a well-spent day, and it fails to account for the times that the workload is too much. After 5, 6, or 7 days of constant work, your body needs a break.
With hustle culture, spending a day hardly leaving your bed is seen as a day wasted. But pushing past that expectation allows you to see it as a chance to rest. You can feel pride knowing that, even when you are so drained from work that you can hardly get out of bed, you still took the time to make lunch or shower or take care of yourself somehow. That can still be a day well spent.
Letting your mind and body decompress and relax for a day can be as beneficial to you as working through your assignments. That time to refocus can even help you work with a better head on your shoulders.
College provides an incredible community of passion for education, with hundreds of resources for new information. It is a hub for anything you would ever want to know, and I absolutely love it. But when school becomes all work with no time to breathe, it can feel overwhelming.
Scheduling even an hour or two into your day or week to do something fun or close yourself off from the world can make college that much more manageable and enjoyable. Treat those moments of nothingness or “wasted time” as moments of self-care, to breathe and recenter away from all the work coming in.
The Many Misconceptions of College Life
I don’t think I’ve ever felt pressure as intense as what I’ve felt in college.
There’s a lot of rumors and ideas that float around college before you ever even get here. You hear plenty of people tell you it’s going to be the greatest years of your life, or it will go by so quickly, or that you’ll grow and change so much as a person that you’ll drift away from your closest high school friends.
When I first found out I had been accepted into UIUC’s voice program, I spent weeks obsessively thinking about dorm living. Which residence hall should I pick? Should I loft my bed? Which residence hall has the best food? The questions came flying and as the eldest child and the first in my family to go out of town for college, I really didn’t know where to start. That whole experience feels so long ago. Right now, I’m nearing my 21st birthday. I’ve left the residence halls and now I have an apartment, living with the same roommate I had during my freshman year. Having an apartment is wonderful, but I loved my life in University Housing, and I would love to offer advice on dorm-life from a music major’s perspective.
This is not something to fool around with! As a person with an autoimmune disorder that is directly affected by healthy (or unhealthy) eating, I can tell you that the energy you get from food does count. There was a time when I was drained, exhausted, unable to complete my work, and unable to focus in the practice room. This was in part due to family stress and managing hypothyroidism, but another cause was food health. Now, I’ve made a few tweaks and paid more attention recently, and it’s a whole new world. I can achieve twice as much on a healthy day than I can on a day when things are rushed and what I eat is a hodgepodge of junk. Exercise is great, too, but sometimes it’s not enough. I love to run, but no matter how much I do or don’t run, healthy eating always comes into play. It can be so hard, especially when you’re doing your own cooking, to make time for health. With crazy busy schedules, musicians often don’t find time to take care of themselves. But eating and cooking healthy can be for everyone, so this applies to musicians, too!
You did it! You’re done! You’ve made it through the college visits, prospective lessons, pre-screening tapes, and auditions! Now, before you go and do anything else, congratulate yourself and take some time to relax. You have made it through the most difficult part of the music school admissions process and you deserve a break.
Then, before you know it, the acceptance letters start coming in and you are forced to start deciding where your home will be for the next two to four years. Although this may seem like a daunting decision, it can actually become quite easy if you consider three important factors when weighing offer letters and schools against one another. In my experience, the three most important things to consider are location & community, your primary teacher, and the cost.