You can prepare.  You can read articles about organization, you can buy healthy food, you can try all you want, but the first week of school never turns out how you want it.  It’s always the same: utter insanity.  It’s an avalanche of new expectations, reconnecting with old friends, establishing study habits, and trying to go to bed at a decent time.

The last one, by the way, is really hard. My summer sleep schedule simply has to vanish; I can no longer go to bed at some obscene morning hour.  I need a bedtime.

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I think I had a bout of overconfidence in returning to college because it’s my sophomore year.  I thought that I had this college thing down pat.  I thought I knew what I was doing.

I was wrong.

So very, very wrong.

As it turns out, I still have to acclimate to independence.  I need to stop accepting each and every invitation to hang out with friends, and spend more time studying.  This is a tricky formula, because, let’s face it, every semester is different.  This year, I’m taking an interesting anatomy and physiology class that also might be the death of me.

Do you know what the function of the epithelial tissue is?

Me neither.

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But balancing your social life and study time is just the beginning.  You have to pencil in other stuff, too.  There’s personal hygiene, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and sleep.  Not to mention personal time to read books and write blog posts.  And my dad keeps reminding me to exercise.

Look, I’ve watched the TED talks, I’ve read the books, I’ve listened to the interviews.  I’m well-versed on time management.  I’ve even started cutting out time-wasters (like Netflix).  But I’m not perfect, not even close.  I’m constantly muttering under my breath about pulling my shit together.  Sometimes, when I read blogs about time management in college, I start to feel like a failure.

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A few years ago, I read an article about organization.  The woman who wrote the blog had a color-coded planner.  I remember thinking that was, somehow, the only key to success.  I thought, wow, I’m never going to be the person that can pull that off.  I could never remember to bring multi-colored pens to class; I could never remember what each color stood for!  The article went on to bash traditional black and blue pens.  I felt small.  I felt like I was never going to get through college with my inferior organization skills.  I felt like I was lesser, somehow.

But here’s what I’ve learned: No one is perfect.  I bet the author of that article forgot her precious pens sometimes.  I bet she felt stressed a lot.  And if you’re an old or shiny, new college student frantically reading blog after blog looking to be perfect, know this: You’re cut out for this.  You’re going to get into the groove of things.  And the way you keep track of your time and assignments is unique to you, and you’ll eventually find your style, color-coded or black and blue.  And guess what?

The epithelial tissue lines internal passageways, surrounds glands in the human body, and protects exposed surfaces.

Watch out, semester.  Here I come.

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