"Worrying is stupid. It’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain."
I’m a worrier. My first reaction is to blame my mom (whom I love and adore), but, I’ll be honest, the woman is a world-class worrier! Did I turn off the kitchen light before we left? Are you sure you have cash on you? What if we get snowed in?! But then again, I suppose any concerned, loving mother can be lumped as “a worrier.”
In contrast, I’ve always considered myself fairly level-headed, at least when it really matters. I’ve made it through the typical and not-so-typical high school drama relatively unscathed, unharmed, and unworried. I moved 400 miles away from home to attend a university at which I knew not a single soul, and not once during the summer that preceded freshman year did I walk around with the burden of worry. Cool, calm, and collected was the name of the game.
The past four months have been a frightening awakening that life won’t always be so neatly packaged and wrapped with a worry-less guarantee. I spent the first month of school eating grossly caloric foods in the confines of my own bed watching rom coms. Me?? The girl who goes stir crazy after one snow day? The one who spills her feelings into a journal and trots along like nothing happened? I was honestly disgusted with myself. It wasn’t so much what had happened in that month, but more a fear of the future that had me glued to Netflix. I had to escape from reality, because it kept moving forward and I didn’t want it to. The “what-ifs” had me terrified.
As always, situations were resolved, I left my bed, and I carried on with my life. While some things that affected me at the beginning of the semester are still affecting me now, I’m no longer afraid. Now was then’s future, and it’s not so bad! But, as always, I’ve been presented with a new set of things to worry about: unemployment (both for my parents and me who are victims of an expanding federal government), graduation, friendships changing or ending, the health of loved ones. We all have our worry-inducing lists.
This past month was characterized by migraines and other stress-induced health issues, and lots of tear-laden freak-outs to those poor people whom I consider my best friends. After three weeks of what felt like a repeat of the beginning of the semester I thought (finally) “enough is enough!!!”
Right now, I have so many things that are reasonable to worry about. But right now, in this moment I am sitting in a beautiful home with my cute puppy, watching Gilmore Girls, and writing. In this moment, life is good. And this moment is the only thing I have control over. So I guess I’m not doing so badly afterall.
We can prepare for, but not control the future. For a chronic micro-manager like myself, it can be a hard concept to grasp. I’m still trying to figure out how to take control, while letting life happen on its own. I’ve always been plagued with over-powering nostalgia, as well as overt anticipation for the future. Both of those emotions prevent me from living in the now. It’s time to stop.
So here’s to a 2013 of living for the present. Because it’s going to be a good year, and I don’t want to miss one second.
I am not a crier. I rarely even cried as a baby and tears shed from then on were only induced from some momentarily catastrophic event. Even with high school years tumultuous enough to warrant a sappy TV teen drama, any and all crying was confined to the privacy of my little yellow room, and the number of tears collected wouldn’t even be enough to fill one of those high school science test tubes. I’ve never been a happy crier either. My tear ducts had never connected with any happy emotion, and I am perfectly okay with that. I also never ever cried in public and I was never much for crying on shoulders—-lets be real, they’re kind of boney anyways.
After 21 years and a half-full test tube of tears, I came back to school a complete, whole, put-together college senior. I was confident in my job prospects, still high off of my newly found study-abroad independence, and ready to resume normality within the walls of William and Mary with the people I love(d) most. Well apparently normality got lost somewhere on route 95 between Sparta, NJ and Williamsburg, VA. Absolutely nothing about the past month has been normal, expected, or asked for. On my shoulders rest hundreds of unread pages, hours of lost sleep, too many doctor’s appointments, and the guilt of neglecting friends I should’ve reconnected with weeks ago. To accessorize, I have a tub full of tears dragging along behind me—a constant reminder that if you don’t cry for 21 years, you’ll make up for it in three weeks. When it rains it pours.
I’ve spent so much time defining myself in terms of the past three weeks. I am a (jealous) ex-girlfriend, a slacker student, a stressed senior, a crying mess, a neglectful friend, and not nearly as healthy as I would’ve hoped. But then I realized—-how can three weeks, or even six months, be used as a measure for what I am or what I am not? The easy answer is: they can’t. I am smart. I am confident. I am a friend…..a best friend even. I am a sister, a philanthropist, and a hopeful romantic. Maybe I don’t feel all of those things right now, but in time I think I will.
It’s just funny how life confronts you with the things that scare you the most at one time—as though you’re trotting along in a marathon only to find an infinite brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks, as the other runners who have always been miles behind you glide through the wall with ease. I’ve been running, sprinting in fact, from the same standing issue since I was nine years old. Now recent events have taught me its time to stop, take off my sneakers, leave the race, and deal with it.
Picking up the pieces of what have seemed like the longest three weeks of my life have shown me more than the fact that I need to stop running. They’ve shown me who my friends are. I’ve always known, of course, but it’s solidified who I need in my life to make me feel like me. (mind you, they aren’t necessarily just the people I spend most of my time with). The past three weeks have shown me that I have a lot of growing to do, I don’t know myself as well as I would’ve hoped, and that I’d rather eat mac and cheese than anything else. I’ve also been able to connect with my mom like I never have before. Granted, we’ve always been close, and I’d rather have bonded with her over something happier than a broken heart, but now I understand why my dad leaving has had such a big effect on her life and who she is.
Most importantly, I’ve learned it’s okay to cry and to be sad. And it’s okay to be that way for some time. When things start piling up, you can only expect so much of yourself. You are not invincible and sometimes you need to lean on whoever is around you (or in my case, completely fall on them until you can hold yourself up again.) Time at the moment, is my best friend and my worst enemy. I know that with time, all of the things that have happened over the past three weeks will dissolve into memories detached from feeling. On the other hand, time is moving much too slowly.
So for now, I will continue to lean and continue to let myself heal. I will cut myself some slack because I know that somewhere in another time continuum, future me is looking back at current me saying “just wait, it’ll all be okay.”
I’ve always enjoyed engaging in political debate—probably because I most enjoy debating when I do not have set-in-stone feelings on the issues at hand. As a government major at a fairly politically charged university, it seems unreasonable that I lack strong political affiliation, but to be blatantly honest, I hate the way American politics are organized.
Bipartisan politics weaken American democracy. Land of the free and home of the brave? Well we’re not really free to vote for a President not labeled “Democrat” or “Republican,” are we? I guess technically, yes, we can, but the chances of your favorite independent candidate making breakfast in the White House are slim to none. So really, that freedom comes with an unreasonable price—wasting your vote on someone who won’t win. And home of the brave? Not when it comes to trying to break the constraining chains of the two party system. We, as functioning human beings, have a tendency to stick with what we know and embrace the status quo, but that’s not bravery. Politics is no exception.
Categorizing candidates into Democrats and Republicans does quite a few things to undermine our political freedom. Firstly, categorizing humans into two groups is like capturing all of the birds in the world and labeling all of them either pigeons or peacocks—it’s unreasonable, lazy, and close-minded.
Secondly, when two obviously dominant parties exists, they inadvertently label everyone else as “revolutionaries” or “others” or “independents,” all of which really translate to: “no one really listens to me, and here are my so-called far-out political views with which your party leaders will tell you you don’t agree.” That’s just not fair. And furthermore, what happened to the middle of the spectrum? When did moderate become construed as “wishy-washy?”
Thirdly, and most infuriatingly, two parties give Americans an easy way to vote—-a way in which they don’t need to do any research or make their own opinions. Why think when someone else can do it for me? (I blame Siri for this) Just vote with your party! You’re an elephant or a donkey and that’s that. Voting blindly. It’s sad. When are we going to start thinking issue-by-issue? Think critically, NOT politically.
It’s a frustrating, confining system and my hope for the future is that my generation figures out a way to break free from it. We need to find a way to let these “independent” parties have a fair chance of winning because to be honest, I don’t think we’ve found the best way to govern such a powerful, expansive, and influential country.
In the words of Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones: “I don’t believe in the Democratic party or the Republican party, I just believe in parties.” Amen, sister!
In a society plagued with a recession, how do we, the children of baby boomers, decide what sector of the economy we want to enslave ourselves to? Okay, perhaps “enslave” sounds a bit intense, but my senior-year-of-college-induced jitters have started to set in, and unfortunately I think they’ve pitched a tent and are here to stay.
I, like many young college-goers, have a rather open-ended major: Government with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Upon telling this to the people, I am almost always met with that look—-that deep, blank stare that directly translates to: “what the heck are you planning on doing with your life?” To prevent the awkward situation of having those words actually come out of said person’s mouth, I beat them to the punch with “I want to go to law school.”
But, I don’t want to go to law school. At least, I don’t think so. Or do I? Law school became the plan when I realized, without shame, that Legally Blonde is my favorite movie and that I can pull off the pant-suit without looking asexual. I blame shows like Law and Order and Drop Dead Diva for my romanticized, dramatized vision of life as a lawyer. But now that reality is pounding at the door, I can hardly ignore it. And it’s time to make decisions—WHAT do I want to do with my life?
I could bore you with the myriad of ideas that have been spinning in my head for the past few weeks regarding potential careers, but the point I really want to make is that no matter how many fabulous dream jobs I present hypothetically to myself, I don’t know if I’d be any good at them or if I’d enjoy them.
So how do we decide, or better yet, WHEN do we decide? Is it acceptable to work in a field we don’t LOVE just to get going and make money? But don’t statistics show that where you start is where you end? And how do we decide what jobs meet our intellectual potential? After spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on one of the best undergraduate educations in the country, what kind of job allows me to live up to the standards I’ve set for myself?
The fact that I have no idea to which sector of the economy my strengths and intellect lend themselves, is concerning. Sure, I know what jobs make the most money, receive the most media attention, and warrant the most prestige. But when it comes to accurately defining my strengths and how they can benefit society I am lost without a map.
We, as a society spend plenty of time trying to fix our flaws: we see therapists, try every fad diet on the market, dye our hair, straighten our teeth, etc etc etc. But when are we going to spend more time pin-pointing our strengths and applying them to the benefit of society? I really do not believe that everyone needs to attend college. Some of our strengths lie in traits. Some of our strengths are meant to be seen, while other are meant to be behind the scenes.
But I get it. It’s not that easy. Money is a factor. Sure you can say money doesn’t buy happiness, but it DOES give some sense of security, and to some, that’s the basis of happiness. I don’t have the answers, and clearly no one does or else we’d all be dancing in our own perfect fantasies. For now, though, as I leave college it feels as though I’m standing on a cliff looking out into an abyss of the unknown. And before I can jump, I need to figure out where I want to fall—and that is dependant on my strengths—whatever they may be.
So here’s to you finding your own strengths and landing in your happily ever after. And remember, we’re in this together.