When the going gets rough

Every year it's the same. Just as the sun is coming out, the flowers are blooming, and new love is in the air, college seniors are tested as never before.

The timing is ritualistic, but it always feels like some cruel joke.

In May of my senior year, right as the weather in Chicago turned from brutal to breathtaking, I was banished to a dark, dusty wing of the library for days as I studied for finals, prepped for a summer internship, and arranged the accommodations for visiting family and friends. Multitasking took on a whole new meaning.

I might have felt better about my challenging schedule had I known how other seniors were managing their own time, not to mention their sanity and peace of mind.

Today, for those in the throes of demanding deadlines and chaotic scheduling - be it for high school, college, or beyond - scores of books and articles map out how to navigate some "highway to success." But whatever happened to the road less traveled? And how might one address the bigger questions that loom at a time like graduation?

Throughout college, I was always being told to find my own way - to find whatever it is that makes me truly happy. In the same breath, I was told to find it by following some given path or proven formula.

The contradiction is obvious. One piece of advice, however, stuck: Allow yourself a moment of solitude or quiet reflection at least once a day. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. You'll know when you need it most.

Play a favorite song, take a midnight walk, write a letter to a friend - whatever you have found that works for you. Chances are, you will feel a little less overwhelmed, especially in the whirlwind that is graduation. And it just might serve you well in the years to come.

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