So it’s been a month, your feet are starting to get wet again back on campus, and things are looking up. Just when you had started to doubt yourself, all the stars aligned: your academic advisor let you know that your credits have in fact been going through, you’ve made some new pals who really bring a “fresh perspective” to the table, your school spirit is off the charts after attending a few football games, and it goes without saying that your course load is interesting and engaging.
Now, in order to get back into the grind as the honeymoon period comes to an end, you’ve got to have a routine you can fall back on. By routine, I’m not talking about a 9-5 agenda, but rather rules to live by. You want to have some go-to moves on hand so that when certain situations on campus arise, dealing with them is like clockwork.
Mealtime Company: If you’re balling on a budget, you’re pooling together all of the leftover funds you have in the form of dining dollar currency and forking down anything the dining halls have to offer.
As you enter, you’re usually looking to get in and out without any of the intros or small talk about how things are going. Don’t get discouraged when you see essentially everyone else eating with their buds. That’s not your game. If someone asks you to grab food together, make one of those fake regretful sounds (where you keep your teeth closed and suck in, and then proceed to frown the corners of your lips, as if you just stubbed your toe), and tell them that you have somewhere to be on that particular night.
Now, yeah, you can throw some friends a bone every once in awhile, but if something comes up, do not hesitate to cancel. Grubbing in solitude feels phenomenal. Fire up the “Rainy Days” playlist, eat as quickly or as slowly as you want to, avoid mindless conversation, do a little people watching, and get out of there in time to catch a few episodes of Shark Tank.
Swiping for a friend: Really torn on this one. I’ll admit, after working this summer and realizing that my personal financing skills place me within the bottom 13 percent of all Americans (regardless of age), I’ve gotten a little stingy. I’ve got no trouble buying a pint for a lad when we are out, or even covering the cost of transportation from time to time. Those things fall within the, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” category, and they almost always seem to come full circle. Heck, picking up the tab for someone’s girthy burrito at Chipotle isn’t even unheard of.
But using that school ID with the picture of your face on it to swipe for someone’s meal in the dining hall, that’s a completely different ballgame. The fact of the matter is that those things never seem to make their way back to you. The dude says that he’ll “hit you back next time,” but let’s face it, you don’t want there to be a next time. You eat 95 percent of meals alone, and the other 5 percent will certainly exclude the kid who asked you to cover his meal. I’d rather just pay however much it is for a meal if that meant that I could eat by myself without that freeloader.
Slow Walkers: Yesterday I was walking to the gym on campus and I realized that the two girls who had been walking in front of me for a subtly long time were headed to the same place. Fellow workhorses, I initially thought. Well, I was wrong. The two walked at a snail’s pace. It was as if they had nowhere to be, or rather, they weren’t rushed because they enjoyed each other’s company. Not at this point in the game. Time is money. Just call me the Monopoly Man with a pocket watch. So yeah, I breezed passed them, made it into the check-in line a person in front of them, and then basked in my glory as I entered the place first. That’s just the name of the game.
Campus Shuttle: Some people are firm believers in that little bus that takes you to and from the places on and around campus. If you time it right, it actually makes perfect sense. Check the schedule, do what you are doing for a few minutes longer, and then chase after that thing like a dog chasing a meat truck (or something along those lines). The rush is actually pretty intense, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve been stoked a handful of times after catching it. The point is, in an ideal world I’d have the schedule down pat. But I don’t, and whenever I tell myself I’ll catch the bus, I end up waiting until Easter before it picks me up. If you want to make yourself feel like you are accomplishing something, always be moving around. Keep on your feet. I’d rather walk 10 minutes somewhere then wait five minutes for a three-minute bus ride. Plus, people see you walking around and rumors begin to fly, like “There he goes to volunteer down at the local animal shelter,” or “he must be walking to a nearby relative’s to spend some quality time together. What a family man.” You’ll never get these narratives sitting on a bus. Just remember what Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Featured Image by Alex Gaynor