Oberlin Blogs

Self-Compassion as a College Student

November 30, 2023

Daniela Sueiro '27

On a Saturday morning in September, I loaded up my plate in Stevie (the buffet-style dining hall), and sat down at a table that, bit by bit, filled up with friends-of-friends, and became a boisterous center of gravity in the dining hall universe. As I chatted and got to know so many new, amazing people, a small voice in the back of my mind was pulling me towards the English paper due that day and the 80+ pages for class I wanted to read that weekend.

I pushed it aside and decided to enjoy the moment.

As I left Stevie, someone mentioned the farmers market in town, which would close by mid-October. I looked at the library and my two hours of editing to come, and I looked towards town, where a mysterious and cute little farmers market awaited me.

I went to the farmers market.

There was a band playing twangy, folksy tunes, and small stalls proudly displaying ceramics and zucchinis in kind! I saw a gorgeous eight-dollar bouquet and remembered my senior year self working hard all year not only to save up for the necessities, but for the occasional flowery indulgence. Later, I bought a small plant and pot from the catch-all store in town, Ben Franklin (I named my plant MyLove).

I spent an hour reading my book in the sun.

Finally, I went to the library and edited and submitted my paper. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the day doing nothing: taking a nap, spending too much time on YouTube.

I remember feeling so much shame and hatred towards myself for such an indulgent day. I didn’t even touch my readings that were due Wednesday. And, in case you didn’t know, shame and procrastination are a cycle. Needless to say, I didn’t get anything done besides my paper on Saturday. But the harshness with which I was treating myself was not justified.

It’s really easy to set high expectations for yourself-- and it can be really good to do! But remember, especially if you’ve been working hard all week, you can take a day off. Even a moment, if you’re too busy.

Shame is counterproductive. Self-compassion is key.

After a quick meditation on Sunday, I remembered that I’d been working hard and late all week, that I’d been feeling homesick and emotionally tired. I reminded myself that it was okay to be human, and not a machine. I had done what was necessary, I did it well, and didn’t work ahead for one day. It was okay. My plant (named MyLove, all one word, she is glorious) reminds me of the day I took for being actively a person and less of a student.

I love her with all my heart, and I’m learning to do the same for myself while loving my education. Schoolwork and life aren’t always going to be balanced. In fact, they will hardly ever be. So, try a counterbalance day every now and then.

Stay sweet and practice some self-compassion, 

-Daniela <3

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