How do you care for your physical and mental health?
There is a lot to balance in college. For most of us, it’s the first time away from home, and the beginning of a lot of freedom we have no idea what to do with. On top of that, there’s never a lack of things to do, see, learn, and experience at any given time. So learning to juggle all of the possible applications of one’s time is a lot, and it’s more than most people can handle. So unfortunately a lot of our activity is simply dictated by what feels the most immediate or causes the most anxiety.
What’s on fire today? What’s due tomorrow? Who is the closest to a breakdown?
Over time, this mentality makes it hard to prioritize our own health & wellbeing. We keep filling up our ToDo lists with things other people expect us to do, and we forget to do what we need to do for ourselves in order to feel healthy and happy.
How do you understand yourself?
Figuring out who you are is a big part of the classic ‘college experience.’ We spend a lot of time exploring and trying things we’ve never done before so we can better understand what we might want to spend the remainder of our lives doing. But there is a constant flow of opportunities to explore, and sometimes we can get caught up in it.
That’s why it’s important to pause and figure out if we’re prioritizing what’s important to us.
What do we care about most? What deserves our greatest time, attention, and focus? How can we get where we ultimately want to end up?
We also need to be self-aware and knowledgeable about our feelings, tendencies, and motives so we can understand what we are (and are not) looking for when we start exploring dating & intimacy. Knowing ourselves allows us to better understand how our actions affect others and how their actions affect us.
How do you begin, sustain, or end a relationship?
On top of our busy schedules and extracurricular pursuits, we want to meet and connect with others. Sometimes, we get lucky and find friends or partners quickly (maybe close to where we live, in classes, online, or other places we already spend time), but it’s not always that easy, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start:
Am I spending time with the right people?
What should I do if I want to meet someone?
What do I say if I’m interested in someone (or not)?
It doesn’t get any clearer once you’re in a relationship either. Everyone has their own set of experiences and histories, therefore every relationship is different. So it takes some time to figure out what works and doesn’t work:
How should I carry myself when my relationship isn’t super defined?
What do I do to progress things or slow them down?
What do I do when things aren’t going well?
Regardless of whether it’s friends or more than friends, there aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to relationships: good relationships require work.
How do you effectively communicate with others?
Engaging with other humans is one of those skills we just have to learn. It also never seems to get easier. Of course we have mobile phones and social media to help us stay connected to the ones we care about, but that doesn’t always make it easier to communicate, and sometimes makes it even harder to connect in person.
But regardless of the medium, it can be hard to figure out just what to say or when to say it. Sometimes we even struggle to communicate our most basic needs and desires:
How do I let them know I’m interested in them?
How do I communicate my boundaries with a romantic partner?
How do I tell my partner when I feel hurt?
How do you ensure you and your partner(s) feel good when you engage physically?
Sex and physical intimacy on campus is a tough topic. For a lot of young people, college is a great opportunity to explore sexually, and learn what we like and don't like. However, college drinking and hook-up culture can make sexual exploration confusing and problematic when we aren't able to effectively communicate with our partners (to ask for consent, require protection, or set clear boundaries). Sometimes, we feel pressured and aren't sure if there's consent, or we participate in sexual acts because we feel it's expected of us.
This cultural expectation is often perpetuated by dating apps, social pressures, and gender roles as well, which can make it hard to speak up and advocate for the kind of sex & intimacy we really want.