Monday, November 3rd, 2014
College is the foundation for any identity crisis. At least, that’s what I would argue. Here I am, in a new place, with new people, and no idea what I want to do. I mean, to be fair, I do have a vague idea of what I would like my life to look life after these four years are over, but beyond those wispy ideas knocking around my head, it’s a time characterized by a lot of uncertainty. I ask myself a lot of questions; questions about who I am and what I want to be doing and what I should be doing and did I eat enough vegetables on Tuesday. Besides creating a lot of awkward situations in which it appears I am talking to myself, all of my relentless questioning creates a lot of pressure. It’s self-made pressure, for sure. There’s no beating around it. It would certainly be easier if I could shrug the responsibility or the blame off to someone else, someone else who has got their life together and actually knows what they are doing beyond 5PM. But the truth is, we are notoriously our hardest critics.
I’ve always been extremely tightly wound. A classic type-A person. It manifests itself in different ways. In my obsession with tradition, my distinct distaste for change, and my inability to sleep in an un-made bed. It’s certainly served me well over the years to be detail-oriented and extremely organized. (I was still picked last for kickball, but hey, we can’t all be good at everything…) Most often, however, it rears its ugly head in the form of crippling stress. Stress that causes endless tears and headaches and sleepless nights. Stress that makes even the simplest of tasks seem insurmountable.
I had three tests this week and in a slightly un-characteristic turn of events, I found myself remarkably un-stressed for the first time in a long time. At first, it was marvelous. All, “Wow, look at me! Way to go! I’ve got this!” And then, of course, as was to be expected, I freaked. The kind of freak that starts with some shallow panicky breaths and ends with lots of back rubs and hiccup-y tears. I was so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy life in the moment. Frustrated that I had three tests. Frustrated that no matter how hard I tried, stress always seemed to win me over.
It was over breakfast with someone older, someone wiser, that I realized the real root of my problem. Here I was, sitting across from someone whose hair hadn’t been washed in a few days, who was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and who was a little behind on her reading. But what struck me was her joy. She found a profound sense of joy in being who she was and enjoying it. She didn’t spend her time comparing herself to other people or trying to measure up to the standards of the world. She was happy to be herself. I found myself, at the age of nineteen, feeling a little bit like someone had punched me in the gut. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to oversleep and make mistakes and not wash your hair for three days. We are all imperfect children of a perfect king. That means we get to own it.