The undertone of stress: acknowledge what is there

It eats away at us, taking the form of a disease in which a cure is seemingly impossible to find. It forces us to believe that the pressures of school, work, relationships, finances, and our own insecurities are banding together to form a twisted wolf pack meant to dig us deeper into rock bottom than we can possibly dig ourselves. And while joyously picking away at whatever morale and sanity we may have left, it leaves us to choose whether we will choose to control or be controlled. Stress, whatever the source may be, is truly the driving force of our lives. With Santa Monica College closing in on midterms, students might find themselves succumbing to all of the obstacles that their world of frustration releases. Studying may begin to seem impossible let alone trying to gather the will to actually attend class. And while students may be quick to blame the heavy load of classes or the crowded schedule of their tests, it can be valuable to acknowledge other factors in their lives that may be distracting them from academia.

With this, I’ve begun to observe my own recent turn towards bitterness and cynicism. Never one to fully falter under my stress, or even acknowledge it, I am currently caught in a rare phase of my life where I can’t seem to muster up the slightest bit of passion to do anything other than binge watch seasons of Friday Night Lights on Netflix and play sappy songs on guitar.

Things I never minded doing before--going to work taking care of kids at an after-school program or volunteering at a church I’ve done so for almost seven years--now seem more like chores than pleasures.

Even writing--especially alarming since it is my current major in school--has not been able to remove me from my current state of limbo.

To put the stamp on this sudden twist of attitude, I have begun to question what I’m actually doing at SMC, feeling more confused than I ever have before.

My closest friends have been able to see through my recent facade of happiness and care-free living. I say recent because it is normally genuine. I’ve always been able to hide vulnerability, but not now.

I find myself cynically commenting on relationships in ways I’ve always joked, but now I find myself slightly believing the unfiltered words that escape me. As long as I’ve worked at my current job, I’ve taken pride in being one of the only employees that enjoyed his time there. Now, I wait for clock-out as patiently as an athletic runner on the starting line. Whoever I was before still resides in me, though is temporarily being muted.

This neglect towards the world around me isn’t something I’m enjoying, but something I’ve accepted--for now.

The aforementioned causes of stress all have their part in this dance. And while people continue to tell me not to let it consume me, I believe that for at least a moment in our lives, its okay to just lay down and take the beating as long as we get up eventually.

This is not an article meant to attract sympathy; it is meant to sympathize with anyone who might be dealing with similar frustration.

Students--and faculty--each have their own set of problems that affect them differently than they would others so to say someone easily has heavier issues than another would be premature. Some students will be affected deeper by the same issue another easily brushes off.

I am no psychologist (though my recent self-evaluation has steered me towards believing that’s what I might want to be), but I recognize that my phase of turmoil is just that: a phase. Make no mistake about it, I will snap out this sooner or later, but I know it will take some time and patience. Its not a matter of finding myself again, as this distorted side of me is still me. It is only a matter of finding direction again and regaining a passion for the things I love to do: write, work, help others in need, fantasize about a perfect romance, and just being my happy self.

For students coping with a heavy schedule, try to give up some responsibility even if it might be minimal. Don’t be too proud to let go of some of the load in order to help yourself as I did by giving up prior commitments I could not fully commit myself to without going mad.

For those dealing with an ailing relationship, try and find ways to address the issues even if it means just leaving it alone until something happens. To students like myself feeling lost in the mix of ambitious, goal-oriented go-getters, settle down and evaluate what might be causing your hesitation. Understand that it’s okay to be down; just make sure to recognize that you’re down, so you can start climbing up.

Sometimes coming to the realization that you’re crazy makes it easier to be sane again.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Just try hard not to fool yourself.