I was talking to a group of students that I formerly counseled at a leadership camp who are now in their first year of college. We were discussing the stresses of change, moving, and classwork. It’s been six years since I was in their shoes, but I can still remember my first year at university and for that reason, I felt inclined to share with them two things that absolutely got me through even the craziest semesters. I told them to do two things every week – one for themselves and one with someone else.
On Friday mornings at 6:30 am, I had cross country practice. Personally, it was my favorite practice of the week. An early bird by nature, I loved running to the rising sun and feeling the dew splash against my ankles. Mornings have always been important to me, but Friday mornings quickly turned sacred. I created a routine for myself on Friday mornings because if there is anything I love more than a morning run, it is a morning breakfast pastry.
Knowing my willpower is, well, nonexistent, I knew I had to quickly cap myself from going into the college’s coffee shop bakery. For that reason, I declared “Muffin Friday.” Every Friday morning after practice (and only Friday mornings), I would stop by the bakery, buy a muffin, pick up a school newspaper, and retreat to my dorm with my breakfast and leisure reading. It was beautiful. It wasn’t just a smart financial or health move. Mentally, it gave me space to collect myself at the beginning to the end of the week. Having an intentional breakfast – at least once a week – gave me time to sit, think, read, relax, and most importantly, get back to myself. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was everything.
The second practice I didn’t adopt until my sophomore year when I met Becky, a then first year student who would grow to be one of my best friends. Becky and I both held busy schedules. Between our respective classes, workout schedules, volunteering gigs, and so on we were almost constantly on the move. Even though we lived two minutes apart on campus, we knew we would have to be intentional about seeing each other.
That’s how Thursday dinner night began. Every Thursday, Becky and I would get dinner together and catch up. Again, it doesn’t sound like much, but by my junior year as I was running across campus to get to a meeting, convincing myself a pack of saltine crackers and a granola bar was a good substitute for a meal, those dinner dates were a wild contrast to my normal chaotic lifestyle. Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week and with my recurring dinner date in place, that belief was only solidified.
Neither of these things sound like much, I told my campers, but sometimes it’s the little things that mean everything.
Even since moving to New York, having weekly patterns has been grounding. Whether that was my Thursday farmer’s market that gave me stability during a particularly challenging point in my life or my Sunday market where I found the sweetest apples you could ever imagine, having little nuances can be life changing.
This week, find ways to carve time not just for you but for you and a friend. Maybe that looks like waking up extra early on Wednesday mornings to drink coffee with your roommate before work. Or maybe it’s telling yourself that you will leave work at a decent hour on Mondays to get to that yoga class you’ve been wanting to try. Whatever it is, make time for it. Before you know it, it will be so integrated into your routine that you won’t worry about being hectic or busy. It’s part of your life now. It’s a nonnegotiable. You spend so much time taking care of everyone else. Take care of yourself. Schedule it. Make you a priority. You are always, always worth the time.