Piling Up

It’s that time of the semester when the initial classes of getting in routine pass and the real work sets in. Unfortunately, every class seems to decide the same exact day to kick it into high-gear and throw every task out at once.

Even with a slightly lighter schedule than I’ve had in previous seasons, last week I had a weak moment of feeling defeated. Already so drained of energy before everything even started. Knowing the responsibilities that lie ahead and all of life’s current circumstances, I felt that sudden urge to drop everything and seek refuge, a quiet day or week to not think about anything.

‘Tis the life of a college student, or really any student or person. We all have those moments when we feel like we’re at our breaking point, even if we know deep down that we’re fully capable of managing it all.

The earth just keeps turning, and we just keep waking up every morning and doing what we need to, even if the day prior we were practically in the fetal position and wanting nothing of it. Sure, it seems like we just “toughen up” and make things happen, but what really is the nudge that oils the machine to maintain a smooth operation?

I don’t use the machine analogy for kicks. I do think we do expect ourselves to constantly be to the task, and I honestly feel guilty if I’m not. Especially with all the health stuff going on with me, it’s been difficult to be fully there in every single aspect of my life, and that alone can make me panic.

But everybody can reach that point, for any reason. It’s human. It’s normal. And that’s okay, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for that. It’s like keeping a secret everyone already knows. It’s okay to need rest, even if that means specifically scheduling it into your day. It’s okay to say no if you need a breather.

Being overly stressed can be a blessing in disguise. It can feel like that slap in the face to bring you back to reality instead of routine. You can then truly evaluate your priorities and make time for what matters to you most. And if what you’re doing is only what is most important, there’s always time for it. When we add in the extra responsibilities and get caught up with certain people or situations that fluster us, that’s when the stress is real.

There’s a difference between productive stress and negative stress. Productive stress comes from experiences that test our limits, that may scare us or intimidate us in the moment, but we ultimately know we will learn and grow from them. Negative stress is the extra junk that rattles us, makes us on edge or completely exhausts us. It drains us of life and ourselves. 

We cannot function fully without replenishing that lost energy because let’s face it, the negative stress is inevitable. So take the time for self-care. Surround yourself with the energy and people and ideas that remind you of your humanity, your spirit. We’re not those robots; our new battery is not one on a shelf, but one from rest and time.

So if you too are in a stressful period, student or not, healthy or not, devote your time and energy to your priorities first, starting with your well-being and branching out from there. I wish I was an expert just so I wouldn’t have to be in a constant juggling act, but if it gives me inspiration now for others, then at least it will be worth it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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