In high school, one of my teachers told us that life slows down when you get older, and gets more boring as fewer significant things happen further apart. There was little daily drama in her life. I was, and still am, eager for this degree of stability. I highly doubt that I will ever find it and that more likely than not it was a perception of hers, not a reality.
For the first time in several years, I find myself faced with what feels like an overwhelming amount of ambiguity.
I’ve graduated undergrad and while I know what I want next, the path to get there is so uncertain. I’ve tried not to look at the acceptance statistics, but sometimes I cannot help but look. I have better chances of getting cancer, and what feels like better odds of being struck by lightning. So needless to say, once my internship in April ends I have no idea where I will be. There is no clear path or option. As someone who likes to plan and organize, that scares me.
It scares me even more because I will be going through a lot of the ambiguity alone. I’ve graduated and while I know my friends are always there for me, it’s also scary to have them all suddenly so far away. Not all of these friendships and connections will survive. I’ve learned that the hard way from high school. I’m a creature of habit. I like my support systems. I know it is up to me to maintain these connections and to put in sincere effort and time. But finding out about grad school without them? In a strange city by myself?
I’ve been trying to frame things positively. This is an exciting new opportunity! You’ll find where you’re meant to be eventually! These things take their time! You now can do all the reading and writing you haven’t been able to do for the past couple of years! But in the end, the pessimist in me rears its head.
I’m trying not to be sad about it all, but change is difficult. I’m trying not to fight it, but it doesn’t make it any less lonely.
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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watch puppy videos, because they make you feel not stressed and sad about life for 30 seconds at a time.
- Take a shower. You feel like you can conquer anything when you are squeaky clean and smell like a garden.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speaking of spring break, why not plan everything you are going to do now? Organization is the key to success!
- Change your sheets so that when you nap and sleep you are enveloped in the comfort of clean smelling things.
- Do Laundry. So that way you can feel semi put together in your freshly laundered sweats as you drag yourself to class half awake.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have a minor existential crisis about what you are doing, your life, what you are studying.
- 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.
- Decide to pick up a new hobby or skill. The more ridiculous and unrealistic and time consuming the better.
- Lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling and cry.
- Go through your clothes. Figure out what no longer fits and try on everything to find the perfect empowering power study outfit.
- 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.
- 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.