Feeling overwhelmed? Try looking forward to ‘the moment’

Illustration of a girl in a purple hoodie standing underneath a spotlight with confetti in the air.
Cameron Opartkiettikul/Staff

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I can’t tell you not to stress — you’re a UC Berkeley student after all. But I can tell you that all the stress, all the homework assignments, tests, papers pay off … eventually.

I went to a high school that was fairly competitive, so despite hearing about the rigor of UC Berkeley, I knew I would be fine because I survived AP classes, clubs and standardized tests in high school, didn’t I? Well, UC Berkeley was another level of difficulty that I’m unsure anyone can be completely prepared for. During my freshman year, I found myself constantly overwhelmed due to the workload and the one to0 many extracurriculars I had signed up for. I overthought everything. I was confused as to what the purpose was of all the work I was completing. I was frustrated that, many times, I experienced imposter syndrome among the countless straight-A students.

What I was missing at the time was that I wasn’t just writing an essay, for example, but I was learning how to communicate with professors, how to read through and digest information, as well as developing many other hard and soft skills that would pave the way for future success. Everything I did was propelling me into the future that I was so anxious to uncover. Many people have probably told you to enjoy the journey, not just seek out the destination, but all I wanted was to fast-forward through time and make it there. But where was “there?” I didn’t have a clue.

One time, I called my mom while crying over two papers I had due, an upcoming midterm and multiple meetings I had to attend that coming week. She interrupted my tears by saying, “Gosh, Natalia, I can’t wait until, one day, you call me and you’re watching your kids play on the grass, with your partner relaxing next to you, as you take a day off from your dream jobs. I can’t wait until you call me in that moment to say, ‘Wow, Mom, it was all worth it. Everything I did, all the stress, the tests, the readings — it all led me to this moment. This perfect moment. This moment I’ve worked so hard to deserve.’” I remember pausing and smiling as I wiped the tears from my face, hearing her sigh on the other end of the phone.

From then on, every time I became frustrated, sad or even angry over something, I would simply think about “the moment.” I remember that no matter how difficult my life is right now, it will get better. I believe this mindset has the ability to help everyone. All the things you’re doing will make sense one day, and all the lessons you’re learning will help you grow both professionally and academically. You will get there to “the moment,” as long as you keep going.

You’re probably thinking that’s a silly thing to do, to wait for that “someday” and for that “moment.” But sometimes, having a dream and something to motivate yourself and look forward to, even if that “moment” you are working toward ends up being completely different than you imagined, is what keeps you going. It adds fuel to the fire you so bravely keep lit every single day.

Life is really just this series of moments. Some moments take forever to pass and others go by in the blink of an eye. So find your inner confidence to excel in everything you put your mind to and don’t look at something as stressful, but as one of the obstacles you have to overcome to succeed. Find a “moment” that you are aiming toward, and I promise you will have less stress, less anger and less tears. This idea of “the moment” has gotten me through a lot, and I hope it can help you, too.

Contact Natalia Brusco at [email protected].