The balancing point

balanced scale

My mind is racing at the speed of light / I’ll dance around you like a satellite / I’m reckless, you’re speechless…

You know what jolts me out of warm dreams and into cold reality in the morning? When I look at the time on my clock and it shows a number way later than it should be. I always have that mini heart attack and those three terrifying seconds of trying to get centered and remember what day it even is. Last night, I had a meeting at 7 PM and decided to shut my eyes just for a few minutes…which of course turned into a deep slumber-nap. When I opened my eyes, my mind automatically panicked, assuming it was still the night before and I was waking up for morning classes. It took me a while to shake off the disorientation…and after a bit of rushing and some luck with bus schedules, I still made the meeting on time.

Oversleeping always throws a wrench into plans I already made, even if it was just to get up early for studying. It’s one of the worst feelings, getting out of bed groggy and feeling behind before the day even started. So last week, on Sunday morning, when I looked at my clock, I probably wasn’t the only one who had to do a double take because the time threw me off guard.

Yep, once again, daylight saving time got the best of me.

Fall back and spring forward. Such a simple mnemonic and still every year I manage to forget about the date and wake up unassuming as ever when the clocks hop forward and I obliviously lose an hour in my day. Although I guess to be fair, like my mom always used to tell me when I was little, “We borrowed an hour in the autumn—now we have to give it back.”

So I guess you could say I was equally as pleased back in the fall when I woke up and it was earlier than I expected. These days though, sleeping in is a blessing, and one that I should probably make more time for. I have a bad habit to spend too much on things to perfect them and then I don’t leave enough time for everything on my plate. And this leaves sleep to be a lower priority than it should be.

With that…can anyone believe we are already at week 9? Sitting in my classes, I can hardly believe that we are broaching the last third of the class content already. I feel like at this time of the semester we’ve reached a balancing point of sorts — we have a gut feeling whether a class is going well or not and we balance priorities accordingly. And, for me anyway, the (brief) honeymoon phase of the semester has long subsided and many students have let their guards down. By that I just mean the change in general trends for people in my classes…in the first week, the lecture hall is always packed with people almost on top of each other; everyone is eager and attentive, hanging off the professors’ words; no assignment goes undone and nobody is tardy and catches all iClicker questions at the beginning of lecture.

But then weeks pass and attention dwindles…and I think it’s safe to say we’ve reached that point of the semester where there are ample empty spaces in lecture halls, and when the professor poses a question to the class, only crinkling paper and coughs are heard in response. I’m guilty of falling behind on assigned practice problems for biochemistry and not reviewing lectures from genetics until almost a week after they were given. Instead of feeling confident for the prospect of pop quizzes, I’m sneaking peeks at my old notes throughout lecture in fear that one may be the last surprise at the end of lecture. And don’t even get me started on how my MCAT studying is going…

At this point of the semester, I always have to remind myself that this is when grade outcomes are determined —when students let their guards down and start getting lazy. I remind myself how I can’t let myself become that way because that’s exactly how my good grades slip at midterms. I feel like I’m at a balancing point because everything can fall either way right now, either in my favor or not. I’m scared about many things because so many things are uncertain. I hate scrambling for things but I feel like that’s been way too frequent lately.

So in hopes of prioritizing my life in better order at this point…here are some things that I am writing down now so I can remind myself and hold myself accountable in the coming weeks:

  • Don’t be a caffeine addict. Save your money and your brain and brew the several boxes of tea in your room.
  • A 15-minute workout is better than no workout. Or even if you just drop down and plank for a minute.
  • Stop eating anything from the entrée line at the caf. Stick with soup and salad until you get your workout schedule back on track. For heaven’s sake, you’ll just get indigestion from anything else anyway.
  • Get. Out. Of. Bed. You’ll feel 10x more alert if you just get out of bed.
  • Doing a challenging Sudoku problem in UIC News can be fun but would you please just drop it if you’re stuck because this was supposed to be a mental break from schoolwork and now you’re more flustered than when you started…
  • You’re doing a good job. Stop freaking out. Do what you can today.

Scream out, I’ll stand my ground, nothing’s in the world’s gonna keep me down / Nothing’s wrong with me.

(Nothing’s Wrong With Me – Zetta Bytes)


Sarah Lee (F)


Sarah Lee is a junior studying neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program at UIC. She’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do, but some of  life goals include running a marathon, exploring Eastern Europe and becoming fluent in Russian. In her free time, she loves running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. A Naperville native, Sarah is a peer mentor in the Courtyard residence hall.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Students, Uncategorized