Sunday, September 15, 2013

Offering seconds to the girl with the full plate

The plate of my life is full.

I don't want to admit that I am even a little bit stressed out.
I can handle this.
I'm competent.
I refuse to acknowledge that maybe I am/was biting off more than I can chew.

Lately, situations have changed, making me almost feel uncomfortable in my own skin.  
I've been struggling to find a way to process the changes, the new events in my life, the new responsibilities.

I know that everyone at some point has to deal with this. I know I'm not unique in my struggle.

Most peers in college are dealing with the exact same difficulties.
I wonder though: how do they do it? 

My classmates are in the same boat and making it through just fine. I shouldn't be complaining.
At first, I decided to push off the stress and just plow through work. I felt robotic.
I knew eventually, everything would work out and I'd adjust.

And I am only 3 weeks into the semester.  I should be patient. But complete denial wasn't the right approach.

Over the weekend, it became very evident to me that my behaviour was that of a very stressed-out person. Things I was feeling/doing were so counter to my normal self:

I wanted isolation from almost everyone.
I snapped easily; I felt an edginess that was alien.
I felt prone to mood swings.
I couldn't focus and apply my brain.
I started to feel lethargic apathy. 
I would sometimes find myself needing a deep breath, as if I had been holding mine for a while.
I felt that a small event could push me over the precipice emotionally, and that I was set to have a breakdown.

All of these things are not me.
I normally love people. I love interacting with others and making new friends.
It used to take so much to peeve me; my tolerance levels were incredibly high -- all of a sudden it was like my nerves were worn thin.
I was (for a girl, ha) relatively mood-swing free before the semester started.
I am also (usually) highly focused, positive, and energetic.

I'm just beginning to recognize my issue for what it is: stress and anxiety.

I have grown up hearing that Christ tells us not to worry, that each day has enough worries of its own. Christ says I'm worth more than many sparrows, of whom God takes care of completely.
I know these things to be true.
I know I am a child of God and that He has got this. 
But at the same time...applications are difficult.

I'm still processing everything. I still need time to adjust.
I wish I could pause time and I could get used to all of the changes and then everything could pick back up.

Instead of building a time machine, I will probably be taking more time to pray, write, and think. I've found myself the past few days just taking time to sit and be, as cheesy as that seems. Time to just appreciate the beauty of the day. (Though I thought I was having a relaxing happy moment on a park bench beneath a shade tree in a garden last week -- I realized a few dozen bites later that the bench was covered with biting ants! haha)

And I'm going to make a conscious effort to make sure that God is at the center of my life. What else would be the point of living if not for Him?

All this to say, I don't have much figured out.
But that's what growing up is about.
I don't yet have a solid conclusion for this post, because I'm still in process of dealing with change.

But I feel that the recognition of it is a solid first step.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

forced rest.

Whenever I am sick, I become incredibly pensive.

...aaand I'm sick.

I'm sitting here with a glazed expression while my mind is churning. This cold has been growing for the past few days, and I've been trying a special method: the method of ignoring it.
...I'm learning quite literally that ignoring a problem doesn't really mean that it goes away. It's just made it worse.

Sickness is almost a blessing in that it forces one to slow down. Stop the madness of the scheduling, the homework, the work.
Stop it all and... lay in bed wishing to feel better.

I'd much prefer I was lazy by choice.

I'm notoriously a "never say no" person:

You need a co-chair? That's totally me. 
You need someone to lead this group? I'm your girl. 
You just need a volunteer for an event? No problem.
You need me to pick up an extra shift? Sure!

I have been realizing the downsides of being the yes girl. I'm realizing that maybe I shouldn't spread myself so thinly over life. But then again, what about carpe diem? What about making the most of every opportunity?

Recently I did turn down an opportunity.
I felt it was a pretty big step. It was hard, because it was an interesting lab and project to help with. I could have maybe squeezed it into my already-full schedule, but I knew if I had taken on the responsibility of being a research assistant in multiple labs, I would be absolutely miserable and I wouldn't do the best job.

I'm already a volunteer for a food science lab and TA-ing.

But wait, there's more!

 I've got a job lined up in October to work on HPLC in a biotechnology lab. And it's going to be a paid position (rare for an undergraduate position). I'm very thankful. So incredibly thankful, and I can't wait to learn and work with all of the shiny expensive equipment. To add to the blessing, it also doesn't start right away, giving me time to get into the rhythm of the semester.

One of my stress-management techniques is list-making. Mapping out the day, the week, the month. There's great comfort in knowing what's ahead. I like to plan and have a general idea of what's going to happen. But sometimes the lists almost hinder and I find myself engulfed in the trenches of the commitments I've made. I feel almost swallowed by the never ending list of to-be-dones, sometimes I lose sight of the meaning of life, the point.

Why am I even here?

What's the point?

Why do all of this?

As a Christian, my goal is Christ. My aim is to serve and please Him.
It is imperative for me to keep this in mind. 
My goal isn't a high GPA (though I strive to do my best).
My goal isn't to be the perfect teacher's assistant.
My goal isn't to be successful in the research/academic world. Or to be the ideal student/worker/human.
My goal isn't to just have fun while I can.

It's to live each day as it comes.

To live each day is to rest in the security that God won't give me more than He can handle and that He will give me the strength and discernment to get through all of this.
It's to delight in the blessings He gives -- be they big or small.
It's to appreciate the opportunities I have and grow to know God better.

I have a hard time keeping some of this in mind when I'm struggling with oligosaccharide chemistry and benzene ring EAS.

I write this post out to remind myself.
I need reminders that there's so much more than the present, but that I'm also supposed to live in the present.

I have much to update this blog with, but though I am sick, I have a stack of homework with my name and impending due dates. What joy!
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