(2) From Class to Office

This school year has certainly been like no other. We went from our physical textbooks to reading pdfs online, waking up an hour before class to ten minutes before zoom, and we said our hellos and goodbyes to our friends, unsure if they’d be our last.

I spent most of the semester in my room studying and attending class, or at the Gosman gym. My schedule became eat, sleep, train, repeat. I began to feel the pangs of burnout, frustration, and tiredness. One of the skills I’ve picked up during my time at Brandeis is the skill of de-stressing. Our lives as college students and part-time workers are already busy enough, but many of us also have extracurriculars, run clubs, or work an on-campus job in addition to our school work. I was so busy trying to balance my academics and varsity training that I almost forgot to relax, to de-stress.

I recruited my roommate, who was kind enough to destress with me after classes. We’d go on walks, go to the dining hall and eat full meals together, and take electronic breaks together. It became our routine until the end of the semester.

My internship is fully remote with over 120 student collaborators in four different time zones. I knew I would have no problem addressing the workload, but I knew my areas of improvement would need to be in de-stressing and putting the computer down. Starting out in the internship, I found myself working almost two full-time jobs in the first week, and I thought to myself, “If I continue at this rate, I might not make it.” In addition to my full-time internship, I was also training for the USA Fencing National Championships, and as soon as I was done with my assignments for the day I would go straight to the gym with little to no break.

As challenging as it was, I had to learn to shut the computer off at 6pm. Regardless of time zones, assignments to be continued, or sending one last email, things had to be wrapped up. Otherwise, I’d be overwhelmed.

Politics is already a fast-paced and 24/7 environment and there is little time for breaks, let alone full-on stops. We see politicians campaign for a year hitting major cities every week while they barely have time for their own families. Judges are spending all of their time writing and asking questions for their next cases. Wide-eyed recent law graduate are doing endless research for their first case.

The skill to de-stress and rest is a crucial one.

Power in Place is focused on highlighting the stories of women in American politics through photojournalism. Projects such as photography and other artistic mediums as forms of storytelling and advocacy are things that take time and require patience. It’s an interesting combination of detailed work in a fast-paced arena. Working in the best of both worlds really does emphasize the important of de-stressing.

As our long term projects continue, we also bring in external speakers, one of whom was a campaign coach. In her presentation to us, one of her biggest tips to potential candidates was compartmentalization and de-stressing. Running a campaign is challenging, and as often as they make their campaigns about the potential constituents, they should also make time for themselves.

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