Recently a friend moved back to the US from Europe for his job. As a huge part of this transition, his job duties change so drastically that he is spending 6 months going to school full-time to learn the new responsibilities, and he does not know where he will be located after the six months are up. So in the span of two months, he had a trans-Atlantic move, family health problems, major shift in lifestyle, uncertainty in the future, and the added stressors that come with school (including daily quizzes and weekly exams). And, just for kicks, he also gets neurotic me in the bargain – ecstatic that he is back and easily accessible for communication, but too clingy and reliant on venting as a primary form of stress-relief to be any kind of friend to him.
We talked yesterday. He has a glass of red wine and 2-3 tiny squares of dark chocolate once a week on the most stressful days. He sleeps 6-7 hours a night, which is just enough sleep for him. He is able to focus his time and not get distracted. He is not stressing about the family health issues or the uncertain future, primarily because he knows that it won’t help him.
He makes it look so easy.
In the last nine months I sustained a major injury, quit my job, moved across the country, took out large amounts of loans to finance my education, moved in with roommates after living by myself, and started school. I’ve been here for nearly six months now, and I can’t figure it out. I don’t have time management down, nor have I figured out how to study and focus. I don’t remember to eat more than one meal a day (and even that is typically an afterthought or requires someone reminding me to eat). I can’t remember the last time I exercised (that’s a lie, I totally can – it was last week), and my clothes no longer fit the way they have for the last decade.
I cry three or four times a week. The stress builds up, and I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t run, due to the injury, nor can I bike or go on long walks. I can’t play the piano or clarinet, nor do I have the money or time to invest in baking. My typical stress relievers are inaccessible, so I cry. I get emotional, and I blow up. I vent to everyone who looks at me, I cry at the drop of a pin.
I hate to admit it, but I’m jealous. I’m so jealous. The friend makes it look so easy. My classmates make it look so easy. My roommates make it look so easy. And I feel like I’m drowning. Like I’m never going to come up for air, because I don’t know which way is up.
I try to joke it off. I try to tell people that I’m fine, or that I’m emotionally stunted. I joke that someday I’ll learn to filter out the crazy. I try to remember what happiness feels like, and joy. Relaxation and ease. But it’s hard. Those memories are so short, and come so infrequently. They are consumed by lists of readings that I haven’t had a chance to look over, or the assignments that are late. The concerns of when I last cut my finger nails or brushed my teeth (this morning! I swear – I did it twice because I couldn’t remember). The wondering why my stomach or head hurts (because I haven’t had anything to eat since lunch yesterday, or drink in two days), or why I feel weak and irritable (probably because I’m not eating, drinking, or sleeping).
I miss having someone around who knew me well enough to understand how I handle stress, and who cared enough about me to take care of me when I forgot to. It’s been so long since anyone like that was in my life that I find myself wondering if it ever existed, or what it was like.
Was that ever in my life? Will it be in my future?
time spent: 19 minutes