Just CALM down

ImageI can’t *just calm down* sometimes.

Sometimes that makes it worse.

Sometimes there is a split second between me realizing I’m about to have an anxiety attack and me actually being fully emerged in one. In that split second, I have a choice to take a deep breath or to start blaming myself for things I “could have” controlled or done differently.

But that’s all it is.

It’s a split second.

And that deep breath is hard to come by.

And then the anxiety takes over. And it’s anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours of crippling distaste in yourself or in your choices. Sometimes it stems from things I had a say in, like choosing to sleep in and then missing an appointment, and sometimes it stems from things like moving all of your stuff to a new place and having to start over. Sometimes those both happen at once.

And the anxiety attack only lasts for a few minutes. No tears were actually shed. They just pooled there in my eyes. And then I looked at myself in the mirror and I said to myself, “just calm down. Breathe. Pull yourself together.” And I asked myself what I needed to do to fix it. So I went into work and double checked some emails. And realized that the biggest thing that I thought I messed up was actually happening tomorrow.

And then it was over.

One hour later, I got my day back. And life was good again.

If only that split second was a few seconds longer each time.

But it’s not.

So I learn to laugh at it.

And breathe.

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One year down.. What?!

I sat down to write this post-first-year-of-grad-school reflection on multiple instances, but each time I was distracted by a whirlwind of graduation parties, Netflix shows calling my name, sunny day outings, and figuring out what to do with all of this “free time” I suddenly had come upon.

So here I am, with fifteen minutes left in my lovely 4-hour summer work day, I found this a highly appropriate time to pause and take a moment to figure out what this past year has meant for me:

While talking on the phone with a friend in the program the other day, I reaffirmed for myself three things: 1) I am surrounded by incredible people, 2) I have more people to call friends than I give them credit for, and 3) I have truly started to figure myself out.

IMG_5000I’ll start with that third one… When I moved here to start my grad program, I had only just begun to start conceptualizing what my identity as a professional even looks like on me. I have discovered that it looks basically like what I have been doing, just more on top of due dates and showing up on time to meetings. I have chosen to try and figure out a plan for a professional identity that doesn’t sacrifice my spirit for learning from mistakes, for wanting to bring enthusiasm to a job, and for desiring to be around only those who love their job (or at least can love it most of the time). Most importantly I do not ever want to show up to an interview and appear to be something that I cannot maintain over a long period of time. I’d probably get fired really fast if I acted like I was some on-top-of-it-all 24-7, organized student affairs professional with a lot of practical experience. As of right now, I am only those things some of the time. I’m working on that last one, but as of right now, I can totally sell each of my semester long internships (shout-out to IUPUI Housing & ResLife, UVM Residential Education Team, and Champlain College’s LEAD Program).

As for the feeling of interpersonal connectedness that I felt I was so wholly missing last semester, it has since begun to manifest. Slowly but surely I have a small, but sturdy, network of people that I have grown to trust here at UVM. I keep coming into new places believing what people have told me my whole life: that I am a social person, a stereotypic extrovert through and through, a people-person. While all this is true, I tend to forget to take care of myself while trying to be that “always-on” person.

ImageWhat I have learned from this experience so far is that I need to go for a few hard workouts every week. I need to drink a lot of water. I need to embrace my disdain for large group functions. And I need to take more bubble baths.

The month that I took at least 2 bubble baths a week was a game-changer. It is the only time of day where I can guarantee that I won’t be worrying about school, money, or my job expectations. And that’s HUGE. Especially for a grad student.

Two things have happened that will make some of those worries a little bit easier to handle this coming year.

1. I got a job with one of the sororities on campus to be a House Director. In short, I live-in (fo’ free) and handle their food budget (grocery shopping) and any facility issues (don’t drink in my house or break anything!).

2. I have “done this” already. I survived year one of graduate school and amĀ this much closer to being allowed to work on college campuses (and get paid well for it) forever. Or for however long I can handle 18-24 year-olds.

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So all in all, despite the hours I spent on literature reviews, reading theories, and plowing through textbooks, and despite the gallons of tears I cried, and the days spent moping, I learned so much about how to keep happy and take care of myself, rather than always putting others first.

I will always have a place for acknowledgments in my life, but I can’t let someone else write my own story.

As always,
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