The Struggle Is Real: My Experience of Attempting to Do It All

By Caitlyn McCrea |


My Fall 2015 Course Load. (19 Credit Hours Total)









It’s that time in the semester again when everyone is scrambling to start on last minute assignments they were told about on the first day of class. Finals are upon us, and the stress of studying and completing assignments and papers is a lot. I hope I am not alone in saying that I like to put off getting things done because…

I am a procrastinator. A really, very bad one.

However, I am fully aware of this and have accepted the consequences of the overwhelming stress and panic that this lifestyle often brings on.

Because I work well with deadlines, when something is due I will get it done, almost always at the last possible second. With that being said, I am the girl who attempts to do it all. I completely overlook the breakdowns my overreaching may cause when I pile up my course load at the beginning of each semester I think, ‘oh it’ll be fine’.

In case you’re wondering, it’s not fine. I am not fine, nor have I been since I decided to take five classes on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule back to back, and one Monday/Wednesday/Friday course before going to work in the morning.

I work, or at least attempt to work, full-time at a local restaurant while taking nineteen credit hours. It’s not easy, but it has been doable for the first two semesters since I transferred to Flagler. I know many people who take more credit hours than me and hold down a job, or work two jobs and take just as many classes as me. I applaud them, and glare in envy.

This semester has been determined to prove me wrong about my capabilities, testing not only my skills but also my temper.

I can admit, now that the semester is almost over, that I took on more than I could handle.

I am an English Lit- PR/ Strategic Communications double major with a minor in Creative Writing. I thought that it just sounded like a lot, but since I like reading and writing, it should’ve been fairly easy.

My grade after midterms. Thankfully this is no longer current.

My grade after midterms. Thankfully this is no longer current and  I am now passing.

I was wrong.

Taking pre-recs outside of my major is partly due to this, because they were out of my comfort zone. I didn’t realize I’d be taking on so much with these classes, and now I am suffering the consequences of pushing through. My grades have suffered in a way that they never have before. Things are slipping: papers are falling past their deadlines, words not getting memorized for tests, books not being read.

As finals rapidly approached faster than I can keep up, I was so overwhelmed sometimes I couldn’t breathe. Now that they are here there is not enough air. I am, in other words, dropping the ball.

I joke to my roommate that I don’t even know who I am anymore because of this semester, but it has long ceased to be a joke. I am forgetful and exhausted from school and work, and that is the foundation of my problem right there. Whenever I have a break, I take it.

I haven’t been getting things done properly, because my mind is so tired of words. I love reading and writing, but words have been so hard to come up with lately because they are demanded ceaselessly from each and every one of my six and a half courses. So when I take breaks, I don’t take healthy ones.

I don’t do homework for an entire weekend sometimes (mainly due to working) and when I get off, I just want to sleep. I don’t think I am alone in saying that I am burned out. I thought about dropping a course, but I convinced myself I could handle it. I knew in the end all of the stress would be worth it.

With this being said, I am trying to learn balance.

And then something happened to me, something every girl dreams about and secretly pins on her wedding board.

10/28/17. My fiance and I the night we got engaged.

10/28/15 My fiance and I the night we got engaged

My boyfriend proposed to me in the middle of the worst semester I have ever had, turning this into the best time of my life. It was a clear October night, the moon full and just rising on the horizon. He took me to the pier to stargaze, and when I turned around he was on one knee. It was perfect, everything I had ever imagined.Of course I said yes.

I woke up the next morning at 6AM to finish a paper I had put off the night of our engagement. Questions about the wedding soon started flowing, the when’s, the where’s, the how’s, and with that final straw, the tears came. How could I plan a wedding when I could hardly pay my bills or pass my classes? Everything was overwhelming to me, even getting up in the morning. This was supposed to be the best time of my life due to post engagement bliss, and all I could do was worry about my grades and stress over whether I was going to pass everything or even anything.

My fiancé has been fantastic throughout this entire semester, supporting me during my nightly freak-outs. Unfortunately, I took my stress out on him and I deeply regret that. He’s a trooper though, and I am extremely lucky and thankful to have him. However, sentimentality aside, balancing everything has not been easy. And to those of you who may be on the verge of drowning with piled up homework, tests, work, and extra activities that cause ever lurking panic attacks: just remember to breath.

My best friend/roommate and I have this saying that everything will work out, because it almost always does. When I have issues prioritizing, I become overwhelmed with what is going on in my life and have a crying session alone with a bottle of wine and Grey’s Anatomy. I let it all out.

Just get out the angst and the anxiety, or do what you can to and give yourself a break. Then, when the tears have stopped and energy starts flowing again, begin working on those projects and papers that we have all put off until the last minute.

If I have any last piece of advice to impart on student’s who didn’t ask for my opinion but are nevertheless struggling much as I am, it is this: It is all worth it in the end, the stress, angst, and overwhelming-ness of it all. The degrees are worth it, and are something to be proud of to know you did it; all you’ve worked hard for will be achieved. Most importantly though is realizing that everything will be okay, and most likely you will pass that horrible class you hate and never have to take it ever again. What works especially well for me is prioritizing by what is due first and starting there. I have to take assignments day by day, sometimes even hour by hour just to find sanity enough to get things done, and this model will last me through hectic finals.

I already know what I will be doing when the semester ends (I fantasize about it on a daily basis): After studying my butt off for six finals, I will breathe the biggest sigh of relief, grateful and proud to have accomplished what I set out to do. And then I will tell my fiancé that I love him and am sorry for anything mean I said to him during the semester. Cooking dinner with a glass of wine, my roommate and I will binge watch all of the shows on Netflix we have neglected the entire semester, decorating for Christmas and dreaming about my upcoming wedding day.

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