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No Such Thing As Too Much Work

Posted August 13, 2018

Tags: self-care

"Trace your finger along the window, following the sun as she rises."

 

College was the first time I didn’t totally enjoy summer. All my life I had looked forward to being able to sleep all day with no obligation to complete anything by a certain deadline. The promise of having no responsibilities kept me going through the school year. Now it’s different. 

In college I’m always busy, and while I dread it in the moment, I long for it when it's gone. 

This summer I’ve been at my mother’s house in North Carolina. Growing up in Los Angeles and visiting New York City frequently, I’m used to being in a big city that’s full of things to do, almost too many things. However, Charlotte is very different. While it counts as a big city for small-town southerners, it feels just as rural as anywhere else to me. I spent a month and a half staying home, almost every day. 

The first two weeks I went out with my friends, but we quickly ran out of activities. You can only go to the same thrift stores and museums and cafes so many times. I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up on all my shows and knock a few movies off of my list, maybe even check up on my neglected Sims. That too gets old after a minute. 

I noticed that no matter what, it was never enough to quiet my mind. I would talk to friends from school and things that were never a problem during the semester were suddenly paramount issues. Interactions with guys that I had forgotten about suddenly needed to be deeply analyzed, to the point of watching youtube videos on body language to see if what he said matched the crossing of his arms. I had recently ended a friendship with a so-called friend whom my parents, therapist, and other friends disliked because of the way she treated me. Throughout the school year, I was able to push off everything she said because there were more pressing matters at hand. I had papers to write, or student films I was a part of. I found that by overbooking myself I was given a valid excuse to basically ignore her.

With all of the things that I experienced during the school year, paired with the never-ending list of academic responsibilities, I was never able to take time alone and properly process everything. I found, that like in high school, I had checked out and started moving through the motions. Unlike high school, I was never awarded time to feel the emotions and then check back out. 

Essentially, what I’m saying is, for me coming home for break is a chance for me to slip back into old habits, and it's not necessarily good. With all that I experienced mental health wise, college was a chance to fix it. Coming home reminds me of those bad times. I stop eating properly, stop sleeping. I stay in bed all day and have nothing to force me to change my behavior. All of the progress I made at school is immediately reversed as soon as the plane lands. It seems that my therapy sessions every two weeks are not enough. I journal, I color, I bike ride, but nothing requires as much of my attention as school. My friends and I find ourselves calling each other and having breakdowns over minute things, such as social media posts from people we never actually talk to. The time seems to go slower and we are basically going stark-raving mad. The only thing holding us together is the countdown till the start of the next school year, and the promise of once more having a lack of time for ourselves. 

Here is a list of things that have helped me survive, and hopefully you can modify them for your situation (everyone has different needs and circumstances): 

  • Rewatching a movie that helped me make it through the rough times. I used to watch Frances Ha at least once a month because it always made me feel happier, especially the scene where she runs wile “Modern Love” plays. Watching this movie again, was something good and familiar in response to the bad familiar feelings.
  • Likewise, listening to old songs. Although I never actually stopped listening to most of those songs, I didn’t listen to them as often. Hearing them on a more frequent basis did the same thing as watching old movies.
  • Writing mantras over and over in my journal has really helped me alter my thinking. Whenever I find myself falling into a negative thought pattern, I come up with a positive sentence to combat that. That’s what my therapist had me do, and it really works. Saying a bad thing constantly tricks my brain into believing it’s true, so why wouldn’t that work for something good?
  • Lots and lots and lots of phone calls with friends. And double-triple-quadruple-AP-essay-style text messages. Not only is it good to talk things out with another person, so you can get out of your own head, but then you realize that you’re not alone. Knowing that someone in another state, or country, or down the street, is dealing with the same thing makes me feel a thousand times better. We can struggle together and find a solution together. 
  • Look out your window and count the stars and the leaves. Trace your finger along the window, following the sun as she rises. Be. Be. Be. You have spent so long avoiding living. now is your time to experience it all.

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