I am not a Jew. I did not grow up in a Yiddish-speaking environment, which means I have only a faint grasp of the Yale Daily News’s unofficial second language. But in the past couple of months, I have grown intimately familiar with the most commonly used and flexibly defined Yiddish word: shvitz (a noun, a verb and the base of an adjective all related to sweatiness or sweating, but more broadly connoting a deeply anxious, unfocused state of mind).
I began senior year calm and collected after a summer of wearing clean clothes, eating breakfast and generally behaving like a functional adult. But as soon as shopping period began, I started feeling anxious about finding the right schedule for my last fall semester at Yale. I was emailing professors and counting empty seats in seminars. I even semi-successfully convinced a professor to change the time of a once-a-week seminar to better accommodate my other potential classes.
“Stop shvitzing so much,” my friends would often say to me. “Everything is going to be okay.”
That’s when I first started really paying attention to the word. Sure enough, my schedule fell into place and everything was indeed okay. But the shvitzing didn’t stop.
Before long, I found the number of things to shvitz over growing exponentially.
I found myself shvitzing over job applications with deadlines that were months away. I was shvitzing over a senior thesis that I don’t foresee writing until the week before Myrtle. I was even shvitzing over what I would do to fill the free time I would have after finishing my term as an editor of this paper. Yes, I was shvitzing over having free time.
At this point, shvitzing has become such an ingrained part of my being that the people I have met for the first time in my senior year think of me as one incessantly hyperventilating shvitz, like those fearful, shaking Chihuahuas with bulging eyes.
It all came to a head last week when I stood in between racks of Halloween costumes and could not find any suitable capes for either of my ideal disguises — a Freemason or an upper-level Scientologist.
Before I explain what happened, I should give you some background.
I really enjoy wearing capes. Having a lengthy piece of fabric fastened around my neck gives me a sense of accomplishment that I only otherwise feel when I’m driving a large vehicle or standing on an elevated podium. But in a place as fickle as Yale, I very rarely have the opportunity to just don a cape before heading out to dinner.
One of the only times of the year when I get to wear a cape and also have friends (mutually exclusive qualities, you see) is Halloween.
So, back to me in the costume shop. I had every intention of leaving with a cape — not wearing one seemed like an incredibly disappointing lost opportunity. And I began to shvitz. Don’t I sound like an idiot right now? Luckily, as I stood between the racks, I also realized that there was a problem bigger than missing a cape — I was being an imbecile. My life had dissolved into one long string of #whitegrlproblems.
I mean, I’m still a pretty big shvitz. I’ve been shvitzing about this view (my first, hope you’re still reading) for a good 24 hours now. But somehow I feel like I have a much better sense of perspective on things. This past Wednesday, for example, I was supposed to have lunch at Scoozzi. For some strange and unfortunate reason, Scoozzi went out of business on Tuesday. How much did I shvitz? Not one ounce.
But as I write this view, I find myself sitting in bed staring at three costumes that involve not a single cape. Not even a capelet. And I have genuinely come to terms with them, displaying a great amount of recently-acquired maturity and wisdom on my part. Yes, I am happy with my costumes: the clothes of a plague doctor, a tux that vaguely evokes Ellen DeGeneres at her wedding to Portia de Rossi, and — what I’m most excited about — slutty Sam Tsui.