Just the other night, I had to pause in my work. My fingers left the keyboard, but not long enough for my roommate or her friend to look up from their own work and ask what was wrong. That's the thing; for once, there was nothing wrong. I had assignments due the next day, a 9:50 AM class to drag myself to. But, in the moment, I was...okay. The weather outside had finally warmed, and the night breeze drifted through our open window and tickled my face. The three of us were working silently in a room cramped with colorful posters and tapestries. My sheets were clean and fresh-smelling, and my face was still cold from the mint and jojoba scrub I had rubbed vigorously into my skin. The constant weight on my chest slid away in that moment, leaving me so much lighter than I ever thought possible. I realized what it was I was feeling: peace.
So, I think it's pretty obvious that I've been less stressed than I thought I'd be while at my first year of college. To be fair, I haven't even set foot in the Science Center for any of my classes yet, so I'm sure there's a whole other side to this monster I haven't had the misfortune to meet; also, to reiterate, this was my first year, so maybe what I have to say only applies to nervous high school seniors who don't have any idea how they're going to pull off another four years of this bullshit. After all, everything you did in the later years of high school all went towards getting into a good college, right? Now that you're here, what do you do? Well, you can stress over getting into a grad school or getting a degree in a field you're not too into, or you can focus on pursuing your chosen field of study, working at your own pace, and prioritizing your health. I'm not as stressed about grades anymore -- a degree is a degree -- instead, I'm spending my brainpower exploring ideas and ways of thinking previously left untouched because I never had the time.
I no longer have to set alarms for everything because I trust myself to get it done; even my notorious daily lists are being referenced less and less. I've realized that it's okay to walk to class, even if it means you might show up a minute or two late. No one locks you out, and no one gives you dirty looks. I do a little bit of all my work each day so it doesn't build up; this includes emotional work, as well. I make sure to talk to my roommate and my friends about how I'm feeling, even if it feels stupid in the moment. I had avoided this practice during high school because I thought it had made me look weak, and I had shuddered at the possibility of becoming emotionally dependent on another person. If anything, talking about feelings (blegh) takes a good amount of practice, but it has a remarkable payoff. Apparently, I managed to trick most of my friends into thinking i was some kind of cool aloof person when we first met. At the time, I took it as a compliment, but I'm starting to realize that being open with others is not the same as being weak. In fact, sometimes it's the bravest thing one can do.
There isn't going to be a light switch moment where you just "turn into" a responsible adult. It didn't happen at graduation, it didn't happen when I moved into my dorm, it won't happen when I start my career. We're going to be who we are now, but with more layers, more answers, and more experiences, piled atop one another like the blankets of a warm, clean bed.