As the first whole month of real school, October is notoriously a struggle. Just last weekend you were picking apples with your college and dancing to Madonna at UOFC PINK! dance. This week you’re picking up an apple from the dining hall because you don’t have time to each lunch as you muddle through that paper on the cultural significance of “Material Girl.” You’re left wondering — how can it already be midterm season? What have I learned? What have I accomplished? Why am I here? I’m studying for the first midterm of my last fall semester at Yale and I STILL haven’t learned which of the women’s stalls in Bass actually closes. I also haven’t come to terms with the fact that the staplers in Bass must actually just be there for show, which is why they will never ever (ever) have staples in them.
Your G-Cal is starting to resemble the coat of many colors. Your club commitments no longer only consist of talking big talk for an hour and not doing anything. And you’re stuck having to pretend like two papers and two midterms in two days is NO PROBLEM GUYZ because you got it lyk dat.
And the worst part? October is one of the most fun and exciting months at Yale. Temptation station. Safety dance, Halloweekend, Fall Show (?) — everything feels really high risk, high-chance-of-crushing-failure-for-that-thing-I-should-be-doing-but-am-not-because-I’m-acting-the-fool-at-Safety, but high reward. I could either spend the next two hours trying to get my hair to look like Cyndi Lauper’s or I could study for econ. Priorities, guys! Cyndi Lauper has brought you so many hits — you owe her this!
So you do it all. You leave at 10:15 every morning, packed with everything you’ll need for the next 11 hours until you make it back to your room. You take shots of 5-hour ENERGY during the week so you can party on the weekend. You sleep at 3, wake up at 9, and even when you stop for one second, your mind is fixated on what comes next, what still has to be done. And amidst all of that crazy, you forget to take care of yourself. Studying and being social and enjoying parties and friends is part of this, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.
I write all of this because this week I forgot to breathe. Wrapped up in all the stress of trying to balance my schoolwork, my postgrad job search and making time for the clubs and the people that I care about, I forgot to take care of myself. And while you’re here, in this month where everything starts to pick up, it can be hard to detach “you” from everything that you “do.” What I mean to say is that when taking a quick shower becomes a luxury, it might be time to step back, think about why this is happening, and the small things that you can do to make it better. I’m remembering now, especially in the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing, that mental and physical health are the most important things that we have, and it scares me to think that in our pursuit of learning, money, power (or whatever it is that we’re after), we put this at risk. Stress is a part of life here, and learning to deal with it without dropping everything and running is something that everyone has to do. At the end of the day, though, my 5’1” frame and my mind are all that I have, and I’m realizing that they also need a spot on the G-Cal.