As my fellow interns have been mentioning, Maria kindly gave us some time off last week, in order to embrace some of what National Stress Awareness Month is all about! And I was so grateful for that time, because so far April has been anything but stress-free for me. I’ve been having to make a lot of tough decisions about grad school lately… all of the programs I have been accepted to have completely different pros and cons but are all great for their own reasons. One of my top choices is waiting for an answer from me, and I still haven’t gotten all of the information I need from some of the other schools.
In addition to that, the last two weeks have been oddly eventful and stressful. One of my best friends had to be taken to the hospital while she and I were together, and I have been really worried about her lately. And then last week I had to go home to Rochester for a minor surgery, which caused me to miss class and fall behind in the work (I’m still catching up!). And then I went to Florida with my family for 4 days over Easter weekend, which was really nice—I love spending time with my family—but it also caused me to fall even farther behind. I’ve also spent a lot of time lately dealing with some strange relationship issues that I have been having, which has taken an emotional toll on me and some people that I’m close to.
So at this point, any spare moment for a deep breath or two is more than welcome. I really appreciated it when we got the week off because it not only gave me a little more time to organize things, but it reminded me that there can be unexpected reliefs in the world! You never know when a class is going to be canceled or a meeting is going to be postponed. I’m really learning to appreciate these little things. I still always get my work done on time, because of course you can’t expect random cancellations, etc. But then when you get them, if you’re on top of your game, you can actually relax! And if you find yourself falling behind, you can feel a little less anxious.
However, these reliefs don’t seem to come often enough—especially for those of us who tend to put too much on their plate. Since this is my final semester of college, I decided to “take it easy” and take one less class than I usually do. However the classes that I am taking have proven to have very heavy workloads. And I also realized that because I started out this semester with the mentality of “Oh, I have so much free time now!” I have over-committed myself when it comes to extracurricular activities. I’m having trouble spending adequate amounts of time with my friends, and I feel like I’m losing touch with some people who really matter to me.
I feel like I need two lives. One that can be 100% committed to school and organizations that are meaningful to me, and one that can be 100% committed to my friends and leisurely activities. I haven’t read or written anything for pleasure in ages. I don’t really watch TV or go out to the movies anymore. I don’t play video games or work on writing songs like I used to. If I took the time to do these things, I would become way too stressed out down the road, when I need to be doing my work. And sometimes I look at other people who seem to do so much more than I do, and still have time for movies and friends, and I don’t understand. Am I a slower worker? Do I require more sleep? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I balance my time and stress as well as so many other people seem to?
When these feelings start to plague me, I often feel like I need to change my way of thinking. So I try and look at the things that I am doing—the ones that fill my time—in a pleasurable light instead of a stressful one. I am so involved in Active Minds because I love it. I make friends through that organization. I bond, I get to tell my story of my experience with mental illness, I organize and help put on powerful events that really affect some people. I don’t have to. And I don’t have to put so much time into my papers and school work. I am already accepted into grad schools—I could just slack off and get all Cs and be fine, right? But I’m CHOOSING to put time into my work, into my organizations. Because I’m gaining something meaningful from those aspects of my life. I’m gaining pride and perspective. Happiness with who I am as a person and what I’m doing in this world.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to do everything I want to in a given day. Probably not. But there will always be hidden moments where I can listen to music or play a game with my friends. And maybe those little instances of surprise relaxation will be enough to pull me through, because I care so much about the things that I “have” to do.
What do you do when you feel overloaded? I know I have a tendency to want to give up on everything, and I have to cognitively convince myself to keep going sometimes. I remind myself why the stressful things that I do are actually important and meaningful. And then I dive in and hope for the best.
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Allie here.