What’s “relaxing?”

Since I was 7 I remember being constantly on the move, going from one thing to another. After school, I had gymnastics at least 9 hours a week and was dragged to everything my older sisters had to be at – meetings, doctors appointments, sporting events, etc. My whole life, I haven’t known anything other than hustling. After being knowingly overwhelmed in high school with AP classes, sports, school clubs, and other extracurriculars, I decided that I wouldn’t let myself put too much on my plate when I got to college. 

So I didn’t… until eventually I did. Freshman year I was very active in 2 clubs and part of a third. I formed strong friendships, balanced schoolwork, and truly enjoyed myself for the first time I could remember. It was perfect! But of course, being the overachiever I was raised to be, I couldn’t just sit back and relax. I wanted to give back to the communities that made Berkeley feel like home when I first got here, so I got involved in leadership (and in more clubs). Over my three years here, I have slowly pushed myself to what some of my friends say is “too much.” I am overjoyed to be part of my clubs and want to proudly show them off at all costs, but I have remained cautious not to let them take over my life.

While I’ve definitely struggled at times, I try my best to make time for myself and do things I enjoy. Whether this means spending time with myself, going to the farmers market with my friends, or simply saying “no” when I’m asked to help with something or to hang out when I know it would push me over the edge. 

The summer time, however, brings on an added stress for many college students. I felt pressure from myself, my peers, and my family to get the coolest internship opportunity I could find. Last summer, I did a virtual internship with an environmental firm in Beijing through the Berkeley Global Internship program! It was a great experience, but this summer I wanted something even better. I thought I was ahead of the game when I started searching LinkedIn in November and applying to every city planning or environmental internship I could find. After interviews, rejections, more applications, and more rejections, I began to lose hope. What was I going to do to keep myself busy? What would my peers working at Fortune 500 companies across the nation think? (Spoiler alert: they don’t care!) 

Per my professor’s recommendation, I applied for the Summer [IN]stitute through the College of Environmental Design and will be back in Berkeley in July to begin the 6 week city planning program. However, for the past month or so I have finally been able to understand what it means to relax: to simply sit at home, catch up on sleep, play with my dog, and occasionally read a book! While I was at first discouraged by “failure,” I am grateful for the opportunity to recharge and let myself truly relax!

Author: Alyssa Hurtado

I am a second year student studying Environmental Economics and Policy and Urban Studies! I am very involved in the UC Rally Committee, our main spirit group on campus, and love to rep Cal whenever I can! I'm also involved in Greek Life, Residential Life, and a Pre-Law fraternity here on campus. I love combining my interests and passions and seeing where they can take me!