“Welcome to UC Santa Barbara, we gaucho back!” That’s what we all kept hearing during our first week here. Students and faculty all offered their wisdom and support, and they assured us these next four years would be some of the best years of our lives. The pep rallies excited us, the events distracted us and the hustle and bustle of class schedules gave us something to wake up for (literally). However, after the dust settles and the balloons pop, it can all seem overwhelming and, despite the fact that there are 24,000 other students on campus, lonely.
When those moments of anxiety and fear come around, you have to remind yourself it’s okay not to be okay. It is alright to feel overwhelmed and lonely; I can attest to the fact that I have. But you cannot let yourself stay down; you cannot let your mind convince you that you will feel that way for the years to come. UC Santa Barbara is not unique for its marine weather, renowned professors or its nobel prize laureates. UCSB is unique because of the community that lives past its entryway. It can be difficult, but we have to remind ourselves every day how lucky we are to be living, breathing and studying where we are.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are so many things you can do to put your mind at ease, and I mean besides all of the resources UCSB offers. I mean the little things:
– Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. I personally don’t drink coffee, but I do drink tea and I must say, a cup of hot peppermint tea really puts everything into perspective.
– Take a cold shower. I know a hot shower feels nice when you are feeling down, but a cold shower will wake you up and help pull yourself out of a funk.
– Watch movie previews. I know it sounds strange, but there is something about a really good preview. The kind where the music swells and the lighting is just right, the dog doesn’t die and the father comes home from war, or maybe he doesn’t. It’s a great excuse to let some tears out and a wonderful distraction for a few minutes.
– Make a list. It doesn’t have to be specific, it can be about anything. What countries you want to visit, what books you want to read, your favorite colors, the things you would tell that cute boy if you were brave enough, the times you swear you almost died, your top Disney songs. Like I said, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s about something that makes you happy.
– Dwell on the things that make you happy. If you feel you’re most creative at the ocean, go to the ocean. If you love eating, go to the dining commons. If you split a seam from laughing every time Schmidt has to put a dollar in the douchebag jar watch season five of “New Girl.”
Now, allow me to be absolutely clear: I am not saying you should skimp on your homework so you can watch “The Office” all day while eating a pizza (no matter how appealing that sounds). You still have to attend class, you still have to read your books and attend your meetings, but it is important to carve out some time from our busy schedules to just be and just live.
It can be hard to remember that we have the right to just exist sometimes. We are so caught up in everything college is and everything we wanted it to be that we forget that the most important part of the equation is how we are doing. Not our grades or our resumes, but simply how we are doing.
Instead of desperately trying to search your 900-student lecture hall for your best friend, first make sure you are in the right place to be a friend to someone else.
If you are feeling lonely, I can absolutely guarantee you thousands of other students are feeling the exact same way. I totally understand! You may be looking for someone to make a deep, profound connection with over your love for the genius masterpiece that is Hamilton, but most of the time, you just want someone to eat dinner with.
Instead of desperately trying to search your 900-student lecture hall for your best friend, first make sure you are in the right place to be a friend to someone else. A lot of times, we forget that a friendship actually takes effort. It isn’t just about sending an occasional Snapchat or a nod while in line for scrambled eggs; having a friendship is an insane responsibility, one that when cultivated with laughter and the occasional (or frequent) sarcastic comment can be the biggest reward life will provide you with.
Maybe you will meet your next friend while making a big pot of macaroni and cheese at 3 a.m. or in the bathroom while singing because you thought you were alone and it turns out they love that song, too. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the best friendships you will make will come when you aren’t searching for them.
If you only take one point from this entire article, I hope you are convinced that whatever you’re feeling, someone else has felt or is feeling that exact same way. There are ways to make yourself feel better, and when you feel awesome, awesome things will happen to and for you. Don’t be afraid to be afraid and don’t feel bad about not being okay, but know that you will be okay. The rain will come, but the sun will always follow. Welcome to UC Santa Barbara, we gaucho back and you will be okay.
Alexandra Silva wants you to remember, we Gaucho back.