Bold title right? All my life I was told that school comes first. I operated on this mentality. When I was a kid I would get my homework done and then my parents would grant me passage to go outside and play with my friends until the sunset. In undergrad, I was incredibly responsible and wouldn’t go out or to any event until my homework was completed my weekends were free of textbooks, deadlines, and assignments. This method granted me passage to a school free, fun fueled weekend that required hours of recovery rest on Sundays. While my technique sounds value, and let’s be honest it helped me maintain my stellar grades and have a lot of fun, it wasn’t that simple when I entered graduate school.

The thing is graduate school almost never stops. The information you receive is compounded and useful on almost every element of your degree. When you finish one assignment or paper you can guarantee that there’s another one simply waiting for you on the syllabus. Due to this never ending cycle of things to do it’s easy to get lost in your school work. It’s easy to put school first and only focus on that. But at what cost? The cost of being so stressed out that you quarantine yourself? Or so busy you don’t have time for anything other than schoolwork and work-work? Well my friends, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that. While there are a number of incredibly important things that should come before school, not down playing how incredibly important school is, but if there are number of things in our lives that demand our time, dedication, and focus and as a graduate student there are probably more than one can count on both hands. From my experience, one of the most overlooked and undervalued of those is health; whether it is your mental health or physical health. Your well-being trumps school but the best part about your well-being is that when your health is in order your life tends to follow suit. From my experience when I’ve worked out and my physical health is in order, my mind is clear from mental distractions and I’m ready to take on any and everything the world (and School) have for me. For me, my thing is going to the gym every morning at 6:45 AM. Starting my day at the gym allows me to clear my head of the day before and do something nice for me. It gives me the energy I need to conquer all of those things that require my attention through the day. So today I challenge you think about that Thing that you can put before school. The things that will fuel you and rest your mind and help you become the student you want to be. For me it’s the gym. For you it could be family time, fishing, golfing, running, or simply watching Netflix. Find your thing and do it! Put you before school.

By: Rachel Bediako