Overdue

I am both driven and plagued by the conviction that if one works hard enough, they can achieve anything. They can make anything work, push themselves further than anyone, especially themselves, thought possible.

A classic American cultural value. Good old optimism and elbow grease. Taking hold of your life and making something good.

But it doesn’t apply to everything. I knew that. But still, when it’s time to bail, I find myself blaming my weakness, my lack of faith, my inability to self-motivate, my lack of desire. Whether it’s true or not, I want to blame myself, berate myself for being so incompetent, so weak, so tired.

I came to California thinking I had to do it all. But I see now that things have to back up a bit. Maybe I jumped the gun, put too much faith in my own abilities, maybe I was naïve, or maybe I needed to learn more about what I do and do not want out of my life.

If I divide myself, I will be divided. I should not divide myself so much if I cannot accept the consequences. As a biologist, I should know that energy is finite.

Perhaps in a higher energy season, I could have pulled it off.

But I came here drained. I could only hope I’d be all right. So far, I still cling to that hope. It feels like I start again every week, and not in the good way. The never-settling-down kind of way, the constant-exhausting-complications kind of way.

But am I just jumping off because things have gotten hard? Too many warning signs cropped up in the 14-day period I just spent without a day off from work or school. Where I needed to do homework little by little, but left it undone for days because I was simply too tired to concentrate and resist the stress. Today is my first day off in two solid weeks, and it must be spent working on homework.

I haven’t been playing much these days. I can’t muster much more than noncommittal doodles, scribblings, and homework. I want to draw digitally, but I don’t have the energy. I haven’t been getting enough sleep. The constant strain and frustration of never feeling settled has made me unhappy. It took me weeks to admit it.

I’ve been waiting for more coherency to write a life update. More courage to focus on only the positives, poke fun at my own insecurities to help work through them, think deeply enough for organized social commentary. After such a long silence, I wish I had something more interesting, more polished.

But this is all I have on the nonfiction front. At least for now.

Don’t worry about me. Things are in hand. They just need to shift.

Stress is gray

Undergraduate senioritis is so much worse than high school senioritis.

I’ve been carrying around a can of Red Bull for four weeks. But I haven’t yet found circumstances dire enough to willfully consume this failsafe. I feel like whatever I need to be able to pull through the remainder of this semester, caffeine and taurine’s not going to cut it.

I have been drinking a lot of coffee, though. But more as comfort food.

I’m not so much sleep deprived as utterly and completely burnt out. At this point, I think I’m too far gone for any stimulant, direct or indirect, to be able to remedy that.

It’s time to get psychological, I think.

When I think of doing homework, my insides shrivel up and it feels like every bit of life housed in every one of my body’s cells is opposed to the concept of fulfilling my academic duties. But it’s just homework! What’s the big deal? Learning is good. I like learning.

But this semester’s been hard, and these days, I really can’t be bothered to care enough.

The scary thing is, I felt the burnout last semester, but my reluctance to devote time to academics stemmed mostly from an acute need to further my creative pursuits. This semester, I still have the need, but the motivation to do anything is declining fast.

Bedtime is my favorite time now. That has never been the case up until this point. Two weeks ago, I legitimately woke up in the morning and thought, disillusioned, that I would have to go the entire day before I could crawl back into bed again. Which was quite unnerving to me.

I don’t want to do homework, but I find myself not wanting to do anything else either. Not writing, or drawing, just nothing. That and the very definition of my existence does not compute. What happened to “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” What happened to actively pursuing coffee dates with friends? What happened to spending time outside or making time for people? Playing video games and practicing backflips when the weather’s nice or drawing cartoons until the sun comes up?

Gradually, I see the world of “boring adults” in a different light.

Prolonged stress. This is what it does to us.

If I could use a color to describe myself right now, gray is the color I would name. Without hesitation, without deliberation.

Gray.The color of stress, of fatigue, of burnout.

I find myself wasting a lot of time, sitting still for hours on end doing nothing of consequence, never fully fixing my mind on anything for a particular span of time. I think I need to keep better tabs on myself. Not create a meticulous schedule for myself per se, but make sure I’m engaged or that I’ve deliberately disengaged instead of dismally floated off into a stupor, or cycled through social medias three times in a 10 minute span.

I feel like my current way of doing things is slowly killing me. If I’m avoiding something, I should deliberately avoid it and do something that will keep my mind off it and recharge my courage a bit instead of letting the looming obligation constantly suck energy out of me. When I decide to work on it, I’ll work on it.

But I do wonder if I have the energy to do this. To simply not sometimes, instead of fill the fatigue with noise.

Perhaps I can pull it off.

I know this state is temporary, because I’m peace-ing out in three weeks and moving on to new things.

Until then, the remainder of this semester stretches before me like endless nails on a chalkboard. But perhaps I can find gratification in work completed instead of endless distraction.

I want to be excited and optimistic, make the most of the countdown.

But I’m not making much out of anything right now. Only making myself sad.

And I’m not usually willing to accept things as is, so I think there has to be a way to fix that.

Still, if all else fails, I’ll be free in three weeks.

Coping with Transition

I am on the line between seasons again. And, as I’ve come to find out, struggling hard during these transition periods is a bit of a trend for me.

Right now, I just want to go, but my classes are determined to hold me here, demanding far too much work, threatening to sabotage my ability to apply to art school, to further my creative pursuits, to possess any sort of joy in my current efforts. I’m having to devote a troubling percentage of time and attention to a waning season. I worry that this percentage is at the expense of the season to come.

I write lists to keep my head clear. Last week, writing my list for the next day sparked an emotional breakdown.

I drag myself out of bed in the dark, trying to convince myself that skipping early morning class is a bad idea.

As I receive two additional assignments in class, panic rises in my throat.

I trudge back up the stairs to my house in the rain, exhausted, shoulders forward, gaze distant.

I think about the weekend and I want to cry again. What weekend? What rest? What respite?

I sit closed off in my room, trying to rise enough above the anger, depression, and stress to work on the elicitors of these emotions. Because I need to study. I need to sleep. But I also need to prepare.

I sleep, but I’m tired. I feel like I’m barely treading water, legs cramping, lungs burning. I begin each day with low energy, and I end it even lower. Breakdown low. I-can’t-handle-anything low. How am I to prepare when dealing with the daily routine of classes and work take almost everything out of me?

Trudging to and from, feeling stepped on, dragged around. Am I just supposed to take it?

I oscillate between brief sparks of “Bring it on.” and much longer fits of “I hate everything.” It’s hard to cram pages of human anatomy in my head when I hate everything.

I don’t want to be optimistic.

I’ve fallen so many times. I don’t want to give up. Due to some inner compulsion, I can’t stop completely. I feel like I can’t do this, but I have to. Because I’m so close. There is no other option this close to the end.

So I have no choice but to pick myself up. As if on strings, dragging myself up from the ground, from the depths of utter desperation. I stop sobbing. I stand up and creep to the mirror. I look at my damp, red eyes, and the futile fatigue in my face. I go to sleep. I start again.

I don’t want to be optimistic. I don’t want to lie to myself. I don’t want to pretend everything’s fine, like I don’t feel trapped, cornered, dominated. I want to be honest with myself and this pain.

But this is not who I want to be—angry, thwarted, pessimistic, so stressed and emotionally unstable that I only want to skip beyond the next three months of my life. What do I do then? Plaster a smile on my face and blatantly lie to myself while my heart fractures under the surface? Let the darkness take hold and drag me down to become something I never wanted to be?

I can’t pretend this doesn’t exist. I can’t run from this if I don’t want to drown.

I’m not necessarily afraid that I will not be able to pull it off. More, I am afraid that I will manage to do what is required of me, but that something much more important will be lost to compensate. That things I need at the forefront will inevitably fall through the cracks. That something will break again.

I avoid conflict, but in matters of my own life and wellbeing, I can be stubborn. Incredibly stubborn. To the point where studying even 2 hours for advanced human anatomy feels like giving in. Listening to an arrogant opponent laugh and taunt me, its foot pressing down across my neck. But I have to submit anyway, however livid, because I am proud and I want good marks. I refuse to let this semester take me over, but my weaknesses are being exploited and I haven’t been handling that well.

Perhaps this is training for reality. Life isn’t fair. I can’t expect it to do what I want, but somehow I expect it anyway. And I’m angry and hurt and disappointed when I can’t control anything or have my way.

I thought I fully dealt with that life lesson in gradeschool…but I guess not.

Over the last two weeks—in which I neglected to post a blog update because it would be pure rant (this is only partial rant)—I have decided that it’s ok if I break down. It’s ok if most days are hard and I just hate everything. The only thing that matters is that I maintain the ability to pick myself back up when it’s over, to take more care to recognize instances—however fleeting on some days—when I am happy despite everything looming over my head. To pay attention when I’m doing ok. Appreciate the fact that I’m still going. Still trying.

Also, it would probably be good to get over myself a little bit.

(Or a lot).