I am a person that lives under stressful conditions, as in a state of constant stress. Stress from all sides. This is not at all what I think is acceptable or good for one’s health– physically, mentally, emotionally. Stress, you know (I know) doesn’t do a body all that good.
Knowing that doesn’t make anything go away.
I write this as I am actively sick for the third time in three months. A cold: fairly innocuous, but one that has set me back again. One doesn’t thrive in graduate school with setbacks, and I admit that this semester has been anything but exceptional, or good, or even ordinary. In a word, it’s been awful.
Ironically, I had such high hopes for this fall. Maybe ironically isn’t the right word– I just had high hopes for this fall. Summer Hillary– overworked, stressed, a bit fragile, had all these thoughts about how this semester was going to be so great. I remember that first week of getting all these warning signs of how it was not going to be great and ignoring them. I’ve maybe mentioned that I’m big on intuition– I ignored intuition, thinking I was being irrational.
I wasn’t. There were bad omens everywhere, and I ignored them, and this fall has been crap.
Not to say there have not been some beautiful moments. Or, that sickness and stress have caused me to reevaluate things and start to prioritize all the “musts” in life. I’ve realized I need to slow down. to take things easier, to ask myself with each task that comes: “Should I do this? Does this thing I’m about to do bring me joy?” I’ve stopped obsessing so much on being perfect, and let things get messier in my house. I’ve paused to just hang out with my daughter more when I probably should have been studying, but time flies fast and tomorrow she’ll be 18 and gone, and I’ll still not have spent enough time. I’ve stopped to draw a picture, or paint a tree, or just to look out my window and marvel at the vast beauty of creation.
But stress, it threatens to destroy me. It whispers about deadlines, about the pressures of graduate school perfection, about how I should do a better job at balancing this or balancing that. And I have anxiety, anxiety that keeps me up at night replaying conversations or re-writing emails, wondering if I said something or did something wrong, wondering how I possibly messed something up, because I probably did. And it adds another layer of the stress.
This blog post has no resolution, it’s just a declaration: I’m a stressed out mess. It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s not something I think that we (as a society) should celebrate, even though we glorify being busy and productive. I’ve taken active measures to reduce the distractions in my life that I’ve realized are amplifiers, like the Fitbit that sent me a notification each time I got a text message or phone call. I’ve added meditation to my life to focus on relaxing or reflecting on things that matter.
I want to challenge myself to do better, to feel better, to focus on managing all of this more. I don’t really know how to do that, but I thought I should write about it, because that seemed like the right thing to do. So for all of you that are suffering along with me, know that you’re not alone. Even though I should be working on 2 papers, a quiz, and grading right now, you get me. Sometimes we need to pause and just take a few minutes to reflect, breathe, and get it out into the world.