Looking Backward, Stepping Forward

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

It has been 3 weeks  now since I have been home from college. I managed to get through my third year of college, and my first year at Ithaca. And I am very, very tired.

Going into Ithaca I struggled. I felt incompetent. My brain felt rusted-over from a perturbing semester abroad, and a distressing summer spent working jobs that well, I sure as hell didn’t love. I was hoping, dreaming that Ithaca would be my place, that I would find my people. The strain of the cost of college and being unable to find employment gnawed at me constantly, and I faced an immense fear that I would not do well in my classes and that I would not succeed. But in the end, I pulled through and managed to make Dean’s List. Twice.

While I  had at least come to accept that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was still living in denial. At midterms in October, I pushed too hard, stressed too much and had a painful flare that left me incapacitated. I couldn’t type, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t finish my midterm essay. At the moment, I was frustrated, but there is still an immense wave of frustration and shame. I can’t work the way that I used to anymore. I felt like an alien trapped in my own body.

But I made it and whipped my mind back into shape. I approached the next semester eager and ready for my second round with 18 credits. But within a month, I realized that it was way too much. The cold of CNY winter chilled me to the core. My body, already exhausted from engaging in RA’s driving my immune system into a warp speed frenzy of ‘cannibalistic’ practices tired so easily with the cold. I could sleep for 12 hours a day, and still be sleepy. My class load was more intense, wading deeper into upper-level classes that require more time, thought, and homework I found I had next to no time to socialize. Sleep and School. On top of this, I forgot how cloudy and dreary CNY is, and I felt the lack of sun in my productivity and my overall mood.

There comes a point in all of this that I suddenly realized that part of me regretted my decision to come to Ithaca. That perhaps, I made the wrong choice. As the semester progressed, I realized that while I was making friends, I was making more acquaintances than friends. I felt so incredibly lonely. As an old soul, non-drug/non-alcohol user, who is always incredibly emotionally invested in everything, and a painfully shy introvert posing as an extrovert, I felt like I hadn’t found my people. And I need my people for support. As I thought about reaching out to other friends in other places, I found myself hesitating and stressing over whom to turn to.

I felt super shaken still about grades and academics, and for a few brief weeks seriously considered dropping my second major in history down to a minor. Will I even be capable of grad school, or would my RA reduce me to a dependent, pathetic mess? Which rattled me enough that I became unsure of what it is that  I want to do.

On the brink of despair, I finally admitted that it was time to sit down and see a therapist. So I did. And I will continue to do so in the fall. I still have a lot of mourning and emotional processing to do with my RA. And the first step has been realizing no more  18 credits a semester. The second step had been accepting that I need to exercise and yoga consistently to keep my body strong but to also manage stress and keep it low. Thirdly I need to choose wisely where and into whom I put my time and energy.

I still feel lost, I still feel uncertain, I still feel alone. But I know that I must, that I can, and that I will endure. I know that I will make the most of my remaining classes, and next year will continue to cultivate the good friendships and things in my life. I’ve bought some books on RA to help educate me moving forward. So far this summer I’m already feeling recharged. I’ve been running with my mom and I have been significantly less stressed. I have spent some beautiful moments with some friends that have made me feel loved and supported and capable of taking on the world.

It is difficult some days but I have to keep thinking forward, to not let my pain and new limitations get me down. I can, and I will succeed if I put my mind to it.

22 Ways to Put Things Off During Midterms

Midterms are the worst because mentally you can never prepare, and you still have class to go to and homework  while trying to write essays worth 30% of your grade while somehow not going crazy. So what is a stressed college kid to do but procrastinate?

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  1. Exercise. Go to the gym, go to exercise class, decide to pick up water polo. I mean, at least it will help you with stress and sleeping. So that makes it productive and necessary right?
  2. Go to a career related workshop then update your LinkedIn. Heck, update all your social media: profile pictures, bios,  do some posts, share some photos. This includes updating your icon image for all your emails: personal and school. While your at it, have a new head shot taken.
  3. Volunteer to model for you friend’s photo shoot they have to do as an assignment. That makes you a good friend because YOU are helping them get their homework done. And I mean, someone’s homework got done for crying out loud.
  4. Sleep. Take a nap. Learn how to sleep sitting up. Contrary to popular belief, sleep is crucial. So don’t skimp unless you have to.
  5. Plan how you are going to study and get everything done. Then don’t follow the plan and watch everything fall out of place and get more stressed out.
  6. Do research for your paper that is due at the end of the semester. It is a bigger percentage of your grade and I mean you do need to  find those sources so you can maybe read them during break next week.
  7. Watch puppy videos, because they make you feel not stressed and sad about life for 30 seconds at a time.
  8. Take a shower. You feel like you can conquer anything when you are squeaky clean and smell like a garden.
  9. Organize your bookshelf and all your books. You need to know where everything is and know you have refreshed your memory and will be able to find everything when you finally sit down to study.
  10. Eat and hydrate. One cannot think on an empty stomach, nor when one is dehydrated. Also, I can’t be the only one who sometimes eats their feelings. And I mean you do kinda need to clear out the fridge of anything that might go bad over spring break.
  11. Speaking of spring break, why not plan everything you are going to do now? Organization is the key to success!
  12. Change your sheets so that when you nap and sleep you are enveloped in the comfort of clean smelling things.
  13. Do Laundry. So that way you can feel semi put together in your freshly laundered sweats as you drag yourself to class half awake.
  14. Bond with your friends. Take these moments of stress and anxiety to take a break and get to know each other even better. You’ll be bound to get at least one laugh out of it, and laughing feels good and since you’re both stressed laughing is a good way of dealing with all of the stress that you are feeling.
  15. Do free writing. Write a letter, poem, short story, gay “300” erotica. At least you can say you were motivated about something. And writing is incredibly therapeutic.
  16. Have a minor existential crisis about what you are doing, your life, what you are studying.
  17. Call your parents. Have them bring the dogs to the phone or the webcam so that you can talk to them, and your parents can tell you how they recognize your voice and are looking for you. At least someone loves you unconditionally and misses you.
  18. Decide to pick up a new hobby or skill. The more ridiculous and unrealistic and time consuming the better.
  19. Lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling and cry.
  20. Go through your clothes. Figure out what no longer fits and try on everything to find the perfect empowering power study outfit.
  21. Go through your backpack and clean out. In the process find the assignment sheets you probably should have located last week not the night before the paper is due. But at least you are doing it.
  22. Inner monologue yourself up to actually getting your work done. Because as much as you hate midterms and all the stress you’re here at college and you’ve gotten this far. You’ve got this rodeo. You can, and will survive.

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What Is College?

As I find myself sprawling on my dorm room floor shoveling goldfish down my mouth by the handful, coming down from another verge of hysterical crying, I find myself asking: Is this what college is?

Is it a series of emotional breakdowns always on the horizon, an “objects may be closer than they appear” attached?

Is it cursing the institution for not understanding that 250 sheets of print credits while it sounds like enough is nowhere near enough for literally every single major?

Is it wondering why the fuck girls who wear eyeliner to exercise class? Are smudgey eyes in vogue these days? Should I at least give them credit for caring enough about their appearance to throw on a line of black/brown/peacock blue?

Is it getting stuck on shitty dates and having to split the bill last second and watching a days worth of meager wages vanish in thin air?

Is it feeling confident, and then getting a few lower grades than expected and suddenly having an existential crisis about it?

Is it missing your dogs so painfully and realizing that you cannot function without a dog, or really someone, who loves you so constantly and completely in your life close by?

Is it realizing that you have to fight for yourself, to learn how to advocate for you, to literally get even just a few more pennies for your education?

Having to constantly feel like you have to prove yourself?

Is it the panic of wondering ‘will I graduate on time’? The terror of ‘how can I afford this’? The fear of ‘what will I do if xyz don’t work out’?

How about cramming 4 major papers into a week?

Yes.

BUTT

Its also spontaneous late night romps with your friends in your room.

Spontaneously going to poetry readings and faculty lectures.

Bonding over shitty dinning hall food with people you barely know.

Learning awesome, amazing, mind boggling, downright crazy stuff on the daily.

Realizing you won’t get it all done. That no one does. And hey, its okay.

Growing as a person and an individual.

Realizing that you are awesome, and getting your ass kicked to the next level of awesome because you are awesome and capable of nothing but awesomeness.

Sleep is not for the weak. But if needed is optional for a few days of each semester if used responsibly.

Its realizing teachers are human too.

Its learning that even on the shittiest days when the universe is kicking you while you are down that you can get back up and do it all again.

It is finally understanding what it is you want to do and achieve in the world.

That this, what ever you want to call this, is beautiful.

 

 

The Uneventful Weekend

This weekend was for the most part uneventful. I didn’t go anywhere really and I spent a good chunk of it sleeping, but I needed it. Constantly listening to another language is exhausting and I had a lot of things that went on last week including two major tests and a quiz.

But even though i lazed around I still accomplished things. I applied to 6 jobs in one day, bumping up te number of places that I have applied to 16. Someone has gotta hire me right? Well I hope so anyway. Its hard to say which job I’d like the most or where I want to be. I don’t have a lot of things I really feel like I have to do this summer except I do want to make a quilt for when I go away for college next year. Also making a blanket and a braided rug would be nice too but we cant have everything now.

I went out to dinner with a friend on Saturday, and on Sunday went with her to the farmers market. This time I bought bananas, 6 mandarin oranges and a large container of strawberries. Again for an ammmaazzzing price. I wish there were some water apples (Manzanas del agua). I have been looking to see if they were around but no such luck yet. What is a water apple? Think of the texture of a peach mixed with the taste of an apple. Its something liked that. Very sweet, very juicy, and very good. Then of course we had to buy American fast food and ice cream at the multiplaza before trudging home.

Spanish is an uphill battle, like running up the mountain only to realize it was flat to only realize you have a cliff to scale. It is horribly frustrating at times. Like today learning the difference between por and para. I said ” She went to the beach for sunbathing” using por, because thats the reason she went, only to be told no. By a substitute that made you feel stupid if you had the wrong answer. Unfortunate, and frustrating because now I get to teach myself what was supposed to have been taught in class. It is always soooo aggravating having the people who know it rush everyone else along, and even though they aren’t in the majority it was them who the teacher listened to.

I am nervous about my grades for this semester because I am not doing anywhere nearly as well as I normally do. Language acquisition is hard and really should be spaced out over time so that you have the time to fully grasp the material and the concepts. Lesson learned. My only hope is that the colleges I am applying to understand that and that it doesn’t negatively impact me and my scholarship money.

What else, I still love my short hair, I dream about cooking myself food, and try to make the most out of every day and experience. 6 weeks, 5 days till my plane ride home.

Also, Say hello to Albercicio!

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