The unfortunate reality is that we are all doomed to live the rest of our life under some form of stress or another. Whether it’s middle school stress, high school stress, college stress, job stress, relationship stress, marriage stress, kid stress, sleep stress (because planning out your 8 hours of sleep every night is stressful guys), etc. The notion that you just have to survive college and then things will be less stressful is a complete lie. Don’t be fooled by it. I have watched adults lose their minds over the stress of everyday life. It may begin with our education, but stress is our constant companion until death do we part.
We all argue that tests and papers are pointless in high school and college. End of the year testing, the ACT, finals week and research papers are all viewed with contempt because it doesn’t teach us anything. We don’t retain any of the information that we regurgitated during the assignment. We argue that high school and college never gave us important tools that we could use in the real world … But what if it did?
Here’s my point: High school probably didn’t teach you how to do your taxes or how to behave around a future employer. College probably didn’t teach you how to deal with a nasty coworker or how to eat at a fancy dinner party. The truth is, your everyday interactions with adults, being employed in high school and eating at the dinner table were supposed to teach you that stuff. That was never the purpose of high school or college (unless you’re an accounting major … then you probably should know how to do your taxes). But little do you know, your education taught you one of the most vital tools for life. It taught you who you are under stress, and how to deal with it ... Or, it tried at least.
Your survival depends on stress management. Period. Because the funny thing about the real world is that you can’t blame your bad behavior or drama queen tendencies on an exam or a paper. People truly do not care when you’re an adult. You must take responsibility for your behavior. Adult detention and being grounded is a little more severe, and just a little more permanent. When you’re an adult, there’s only prison, unemployment and loneliness. That’s about all you have to look forward to if you can’t overcome your bad behavior.
I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just being realistic to a very unrealistic generation. Life is stressful when you’re an adult. My advice? Buck up. People always say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But that’s ridiculous. Stress does not work that way. When life gives you lemons you better know how to swallow it because, well, life is sour. You don’t get to make the situation better. You just have to swallow it, adapt to it and better yourself in the process.
So, pay attention to who you become under stress. Are you kind? Are you considerate? Are you a monster? I’m not a fan of who I am under stress. I lock myself in my room until I accomplish my goal. People usually leave me alone when I’m stressed out because I have a tendency to snap. But ever since I became aware of how different I am under stress and how unacceptable that is, I have become more eager to change my behavior. I now focus on my behavior rather than focus on what is “causing” that behavior. I don’t blame it on an assignment, I don’t blame it on a test, I blame it on myself. I may not be able to control my stress level, but I can control my behavior and how I react to it.