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Slow down and smell the roses

Anna Mitchell
Anna Mitchell

Right now, all I can do when I look at my calendar is smile – October is finally over!

October is frequently thought of as the worst time of the year for college students. We have midterm exams to take and papers due in nearly every class — all on top of our regular homework and reading schedules.


All of the semester’s earlier breaks seem to happen in September and Thanksgiving break feels impossibly far away. Add a part-time or full-time job into the mix and you get a recipe for thousands of students being overworked and not taking care of themselves, all during the kickoff to cold and flu season.

The demands on students are unreal. Talk to any given professor and they’ll say they never had time to do every page of reading they were assigned as a student, talk to any current student and they’ll say the same. Obsessing over earning every single homework point possible is a nearly impossible task on its own, let alone perfectly performing all the other responsibilities we have in our day to day lives.

So what happens if you rebel against this busy mindset? If you are caught taking time to stop and take a deep breath or catch a full night of sleep?

You are observed as being lazy.

I had an experience recently where a stranger walked past me doing a Sudoku and made a snarky comment about how lazy of a student I was. I don’t know who this person was, or why my study break was any of her concern. But I feel the need to address it.

We all have important responsibilities. As students, most classes have two hours of out of class time required for every hour of in-class time. A full course load of fifteen credit hours then becomes 45 hours of work on any given week. On top of that, we work part or full-time jobs.

Being a student is an amazing opportunity and a blessing. I don’t mean to be taking that chance for granted. But it is also one of the most highly stressful environments a person can be flung into.

To people who come from families that functioned by creating high stress environments, this is nothing new. Maybe you grew up in a home with parents that required you to be an honors student, take piano lessons, be the captain of your soccer team, volunteer at a local hospital or work part-time and cook dinner every night. If that was your life, I am very sorry for the stress you were put through at an early age.

I grew up in a family that was the opposite. My parents encouraged us to be involved, and we were. We took honors classes, did clubs and volunteer work but nearly always had time to go home and enjoy a home-cooked meal where we all sat and talked for an hour.


The difference between my family’s structure and the one before it is that the first is fast-paced and requires non-stop go-go-go attitudes, while the second encourages a go-at-the-pace-you-need attitude.

If you ever go to an international airport and take a moment to people watch, it’s easy to pick out the Americans. They are the ones running, cursing, angrily and impatiently rushing to reach their destination early, only to impatiently sit at their gate, angrily and impatiently waiting for more action. Meanwhile, people from other cultures still reach their gate on time and are far happier in the process, because they did not fixate on the stressful elements of an airport.

This is what college is like. If you grew up in a culture that supports this mindset, you will easily transition into the stressful non-stop going of college. But you will struggle to be happy and healthy in the process.

If you were raised in a culture that encourages pausing to take time to smell the roses, adjusting to the non-stop requirements of college life can be challenging. But these people are generally much happier and healthier than their hyper-stressed counterparts.

Don’t consider it lazy when someone chooses to act reflecting one culture and not the other. Maybe it’s time you went and stopped to smell the roses, too.

You may find it’s good for you.

Anna Mitchell thinks an important part of every busy life is taking time for your health and personal wellness. Love notes and hate mail can be sent to

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