Learning That I Can’t Do Everything | Stress & Some Decisions

Well, hello again. This is a continuation of my last post, sort of. Over the weekend I was thinking about things I can do to be less stressed, and while this is certainly a topic I hope to discuss further in future posts, there are some things I’d like to address now as well.

First of all, I want to thank you all so much for your support of my decision to back out of NaNoWriMo at the last minute. I received a number of comments and well wishes both from online and IRL friends, which was nice. A girl in one of my classes remarked that NaNo is best done “when you have the space for it in your life” and I know that’s a perspective I need to save for later, because I sense that it applies to a lot of different things in my life. (What can I say? I’ve always been THAT person who tries to DO ALL THE THINGS and then wonders why I feel so burned out and stressed.)

Two other things I’ve been thinking about lately relate to next year’s probable living situation: I’ve decided to not apply to be an RA, and I’m going to apply for dorm housing once again. My parents and I talked it over on Sunday.

(Although my current roommate had already begun to look at apartment for the two of us + one of her friends, I’d barely filled out the RA application. As you’ll see later on in this post, I feel guilty about SO MANY SCHOOL-RELATED THINGS and didn’t want to divert my attention from my homework. Gotta review that lit vocabulary seventeen times, obviously, since my grade on the midterm was only 92% and I feel anxious and panicky any time I get below like a 95%. WHAT IS MY LIFE.)

In some ways these decisions were very hard for me. They made me feel like I’m not trying hard enough, you know? I really wanted to be an RA (and I still do), and sometimes I feel out of place living in the dorms when so many of my friends have apartments now. I beat myself up about those decisions.

On the other hand, going through with those decisions probably would have caused unnecessary stress. Being an RA is demanding work: I’ve heard it described by more than one person as a 24/7 job. And as for getting an apartment? There are days when I barely have the motivation or energy to get out of bed and walk to the dining hall, so I’m not sure how I would manage to cook in addition to keeping on top of my schoolwork.

This year I’ve already made an effort to pack as much productivity into six days of each week. Sunday is my only day off. Sometimes I beat myself up mentally because I feel guilty for even taking any time off at all; I feel as though I should fill each and every waking moment of each and every day with something productive, taking time off only during Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks. And even then I feel like I should make use of those times as well. (I’ve already drawn up a mini homework schedule for Thanksgiving break, in fact. Ahhhhhh.)

And I’m trying to unlearn that habit of feeling guilty for ever taking any time off. My mom once described college as a full-time job, with classes and homework totaling about forty hours per week. Well, I definitely do more than that, and that fact is what I have been trying to keep in mind. I mean, I don’t even take Saturday off.

This post seems to be going in two directions at once, since part of it involves me admitting that I cannot, in fact, do all the things, including being an RA and being a Full-Fledged Apartmental Adult, while the other part deals with my constant feeling of laziness, that I’m never doing enough. The thread that pulls them together is mental illness, for sure.

This semester I’m trying to make myself really, truly believe that IT IS OK if I don’t do everything I want to do right away. I may apply to be an RA during my senior year, after determining whether student counseling has helped me to reach a point where I feel like my life is under control enough to handle the responsibility of taking care of anywhere from twenty to seventy underclassmen. And I’ll have plenty of time to live an apartment later on. I don’t have to do everything right now. I can’t. And I’m not lazy. I’m trying my hardest.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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2 Responses to Learning That I Can’t Do Everything | Stress & Some Decisions

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    It sounds to me like you work super hard. Our uni systems are obviously different (for a start, the marking — for the top grade here you only need 70%+, but it’s still really really hard to get. I guess they’re stingy with percentages? Idk it’s all subjective and weird), and I don’t know how much focus yours has on independent study. But I end up doing around 20 hours a week including my handful of lectures. Now, I’m chronically ill and constantly slightly behind on work, and although I work faster than most people I know due to fast reading and writing speed, I should probably be doing a bit more. But even so. The thought of putting in the number of hours you do makes my brain want to explode. I don’t know how you do it. WHEN DO YOU NAP?? (Naps use up so much of my work time though, omh.) How has your brain not melted out of your ears already?

    I think the decision not to be an RA is probably a good one. It sounded like incredibly hard work and you need to sleep at some point, mate. It doesn’t sound like the kind of job for someone trying to graduate in three years with a double major, which I believe means you have a heavier workload than some? (I… don’t really understand your system.)

    The point is, however poorly expressed it might be, is that tbh I’m already in awe of how much you do and you need to remember to breathe occasionally and maybe take a nap or something. 🙂

  2. themagicviolinist says:

    I’m glad you’re doing what’s best for you! I have a natural tendency to stress out over doing tons but still trying to add new activities because otherwise I’ll be missing out on all of these cool opportunities. And I’m definitely a perfectionist when it comes to my own projects. It’s hard to back away from all of that and relax. At least you’re realizing now that applying to be an RA is too much rather than becoming an RA and then realizing it later.

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