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Killer Stress

I used to take pride in my stress level.

I used to believe that my long, extravagant to-do lists and full schedule of extracurriculars were signs of success, and the fact that I could barely sleep at night and felt on edge during the day were simply signs that I cared. That I wanted everything I did to be perfect.

This is how I lived for most of my college years, especially when I started to get heavily involved with the student newspaper. I put on a lot of weight, snapped at the people I loved, and had professors and co-workers seriously questioning my ability to handle my anxiety (for real).

From iStockphoto

It wasn’t until a fellow editor and friend sent me home early from the newsroom one day (to de-stress, essentially) that I realized my stress was all consuming, and instead of helping me perfect what I did, my inability to manage it was negatively affecting my work and my relationships.

I’ve learned to relax a little since then, to not take on projects and jobs unless I have the time (and it’s something I truly want to do, not something I feel obligated to do). I’ve learned that exercising and eating right are just as important as completing assignments on deadline and worth carving out time for in my day. But mostly I have learned that while achieving goals is fulfilling, no measure of success is more important than my health or spending time with the people I love. (Cheesy, but true).

I still worry about small things, that I admit probably don’t matter in the long run. I still like to be prepared and organized, and can’t function well without my planner, but I don’t lose sleep over the fact that a source hasn’t called me back or that I haven’t completed every single task I wanted to do that day. I understand now that if one thing falls through, everything else will (likely) still be OKAY. But it took me a while, and a lot of self reflection to get here.

A few weeks ago I saw a documentary from National Geographic called Killer Stress, and I was immediately intrigued. The film looks at stress in other species and compares it to human stress. According to the film, stress used to be a reaction to life threatening situations, but today most Americans live in a constant state of stress. A human coping mechanism has now become a switch we can’t turn off.

On Death and Friendship

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” ~Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

The last couple weeks are kind of a blur.

I had several different topics I wanted to dive into.┬áSome of them were timely, and I was hoping to write about them while they were still relevant…

Christmas, the incredibly frustrating debate in Washington over payroll tax cuts, ringing in 2012, a couple segments I saw on PBS Newshour that I thought were interesting….

But then my best friend’s dad died. And everything just kind of stopped.

From Pinterest

When I say that Lindsey Jenkins is my best friend, most people can probably relate. Haven’t we all had a best friend at some point in our lives? Maybe even some of us have had more than one. For some people, a best friend might change often, from month to month or year to year. I’ve probably described other people in my life as best friends, but the truth is that no one has ever been a better friend than Lindsey.

There’s something about growing up with someone, about going through all the trials and tribulations that come with being a kid, pre-teen, teen, and then young adult. There’s something irreplacable and indescribably valuable about what I have with Lindsey, and it’s something I share with no one else in my life but her.

Unemployment

All things considered, I guess you could say I’m pretty lucky.

Of all the unemployed people out there, and especially the unemployed recent college grads, I might have one of the best situations.

unemployment

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

I have a partner in life who thankfully has a good job that enables us to live pretty comfortably. We have a tiny one bedroom apartment (you can literally see every square foot standing in one place), but it’s all we need. We’re able to make our car payments, student loan payments, and all other bills while still having enough left over for nights out with friends and an emergency medical fund.

Now, things might be easier if I were working too. We would reach our financial goals and pay off debt faster, and we would be able to save for the future.

But I am lucky, blessed, or however you want to put it, and I realize that. As for as our immediate needs, and even several of our wants, we’re fine (for now) with just my husband’s income.

I have had friends tell me they are jealous of me. They look longingly at me, and say they wish they were in my shoes.

My reaction to this is mixed because I know I should be thankful and I know there are millions worse off than me. But I don’t like hearing those words. Sometimes, they make my cheeks burn and embarrassment and shame rise in my throat.