Stress and Starbursts

Somebody needs to slap me.*

About every hour I pull three Starbursts from a jar, take them back to my desk, and prayif only for a few minutesthat the sugar will keep me alert just a little longer. My head nods down without my knowledge and I pinch my finger to say, “Hey, you’re working now. Just get through the rest of it.”

It is at my internship computer I imagine a bed under my desk, a pillow hidden in the filing cabinet, and a blanket tucked neatly in my backpack. It is at my internship I am half asleep. I am exhausted. Unsure. Unsettled. Really, I’m just so tired. So when 5 o’ clock comes I pack the energy I have left and go to class, my type gauge like the world upon my shoulders (I always loved the story of Atlas). I whine. Someone tells me to stop that. I mumble to myself I need a break, then I sit at my classroom computer and re-imagine a bed under my desk, a pillow hidden under the community table, and that blanket tucked neatly in my backpack and I think to myself how silly it is that I’m sitting here, after sitting all day, and how I don’t have time to do much of anything besides work. 
I’m stressed, as simple as that. I have taken too much on and begged too much of myself. Maybe I was trying to distract myself from something. Maybe. But I learned something from this: it is OK to take it easy and to have days off. It is OK to have fun during the summer and to spend time with friends and soak in the ridiculously overzealous Boston sunshine. It is OK.

So I slapped myself, one magnificent smack to the cheek.

On Sunday night, I fell asleep at 6:30 p.m. I pushed my laundry and backpack to the edge of my bed and propped myself at an angle. I looked like a line on a graph. (0,0) to (6, 10). Straight, perfect, balanced. The conditions for my fourteen-hour nap.

Suddenly, it was Monday (and trust me, it was sudden). The slap back to stress relief was at its most violent. I went kayaking on the Charles. (I had already gone in on a Saturday to do homework so I considered myself worthy of a break.) The Charles, though brown and muddy, was a safe haven for my sense of peace. I felt protected in the middle of that river, inexplicably happy to be away from school and from my internship for a few hours. But I don’t feel it necessary to describe the trees or the sunlight or the bridges or the crew teams. No, you have to go see for yourself.

And this is what I recommend. Do something worth getting excited about. If you’re going to give yourself some time apart from something stressful, do something deserving of photos, deserving of a phone call that says “you wouldn’t believe how much fun I had.” So Mr. Charles River, I promise to see you again.

*Was not literal, folks.

Don’t worry. Be happy.

2 thoughts on “Stress and Starbursts

  1. Alexa L. says:

    Haha of course! That's awesome…I've been through Virginia a couple of times…it's so pretty there. I've done that drive when I drove from Florida up to here…have you always lived in VA?

    Reply
  2. Sarah Elizabeth says:

    I'm always feeling stressed, but I do exactly what you did. I go to the James River in Richmond usually every Saturday. And I soak in the MONSTROUS Virginia sun. No need to slap yourself. Be happy. : )

    Reply

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