For the Ones Who Stress Shower

Due to my constant and overbearing feeling of terror and loathing while I clomp down L/L’s stairs in dirty Jack Rogers sandals, preparing myself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner spent alone, I have come up with a repertoire of things I can latch onto to make this place feel more like Connecticut, more like a safe space, and more like home. Here are those things:

1. Talking to straight edge people. These people don’t have to have anything in common with you. You don’t even have to like them. You could be a cocaine addict or an alcoholic, it doesn’t matter. But if they refuse to do drugs or drink alcohol, there is a safe bet they are pleasant people. They will remind you that not everyone is scary and most importantly that not everyone thinks vaping is cool.

2. Memorizing a poem or song. Over the summer, I memorized (while procrastinating everything else of course) the poem Bygones by Marina Keegan. The poem has a lot of sentimental value to me and repeating it tonight walking to my dorm with a chocolate milkshake in my hand had real therapeutic value. I also like to play songs in my head, with lyrics flashing up on a screen like a lyric YouTube video, to take my mind off whatever the matter is at hand, which is usually being alone in a crowd of people wearing identical Birkenstocks.

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3. Reading for pleasure. Right now, I am reading Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. I don’t like it as much compared to The Vacationers, but reading a style of writing that is familiar is comforting to me. Making a point of buying yourself new books to read that aren’t for classes is so important, even if you only have five minutes per day to actually read it. Another way to fulfill this need and not spend money is to find blogs and read the shit out of them. I read The Messy Heads and The College Prepster (who also has a shit ton of tips for college students), and when I was an underclassman I read Rookie.

4. Focusing on the future. The weekend before real classes is a lot of waiting, and syllabus week will not be much different. Looking at internships back home and planning concert trips has been one of my favorite distractions. Going off to college knowing I would be visiting Michael in a few weeks and seeing Two Door Cinema Club has given me something to look forward to. I also purchased my passport, and I hope to find somewhere to travel to during Christmas break!

5. Preserving small pieces of your at-home routine. I make the same breakfast as I did every morning junior and senior year of high school (albeit, in plastic containers and with Walmart silverware) here, before my 8:30 a.m. classes or incoming freshman activities on weekends. I also still shower around the same time at night (9 p.m.) and write in my One Line a Day Journal that Maggie got me for Christmas before I go to bed. Small things like checking the Timehop app every morning help, too.

6. Being honest and vulnerable with everyone. College is so good, I’m sure, for so many people. But personally, I’m having a significantly difficult time with adjusting. In a lecture the other day, the speaker said to all of us, “Vulnerability fuels connection.” And something I have been lacking here is a feeling of connection, whether it be to the place I live or the people I live with. I am trying in all ways possible to be transparent with people, and maybe that seems off-putting to the person on the receiving end, but it makes me feel better about my experience.

7. Coffee. It’s the New England thing. It’s the pace of life. It’s what your mother and father and boss and next door neighbor and grandfather and professor and cousin-in-law all crave first thing in the morning. It’s the championing drink of successful, busy, lazy, unsuccessful, stupid, smart, human people. We all share the common human condition that is called “I need coffee.” And, personally, I don’t have the fucking time to use a tea press or whatever that is.

8. Always having your favorite childhood snacks on hand. Yes, I’m afraid of the freshman fifteen, but having a carton of Goldfish and a bag of Smartfood popcorn in my dresser drawer brings comfort to my soul.

9. Finding people from where you’re from. These people will reminisce on your area’s restaurants and highway traffic with you. These people are important and you need them to feel small moments of relief.

10. Never underestimate the power of FaceTime. My entire campus has functional Wi-Fi, so I never really use data, and that makes FaceTime all the more acceptable for my data plan. I FaceTime people walking to and from everywhere, especially when I have no one to talk to. FaceTiming my family is funny and they ask me embarrassing questions really loudly. I like the disruptive power of FaceTiming in public because people give you weird looks, and you should always strive for weird looks, especially in an already strange place because you have accomplished a new level of psychotic. (I have won a few of these and I’m proud.)

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If My Therapist Knew I Had Pinterest, She Would Be Mad

The moment my hand started to twitch toward my phone at a graduation party I attended last night, I knew I had a few issues. One of them was compulsive Pinteresting, which meant I was compartmentalizing again (defense mechanism, bad, furthered my depression and uncouth adoration of planners). Another issue: I was becoming the kind of person at parties that goes through one hundred Snapchat stories and ignores the living, breathing world around them. I also realized that I wasn’t sure if any of the people around me actually cared about me in high school. After these realizations, I texted my mom: “I think I’m too stressed out to have fun,” and tried to sneak some sort of orange juice related alcoholic beverage from the parent’s table.

There are so many other things that I could be doing right now. So many amazing, wonderful, life-changing experiences could come my way if I just worked a little harder at this or memorized that or stopped doing something. I play the “what if” game all too often: what if I realized that Choate was a thing in sixth grade and tried really hard to get in and then met a Kennedy and went to Yale? What if I didn’t do a Shakespeare play this summer and get the fucking lead and killed myself avoiding memorizing my lines? What if I had saved money for the past three years and went to Europe with all my friends? What if I just fucking cared more about things I feel like I’m supposed to give a shit about? Am I supposed to “give a shit” about finding Keurigs and sheets on Overstock.com? Is it normal that I go to the bathroom at work just to compulsively list what I think I need for my dorm? Why do I use Pinterest? Why do I stare at tan white girls in platinum Jack Rogers and almost drain my low amount of savings just to slip on $110 sandals and feel more… I don’t know, put together? Like I know what I’m doing?

Is this going to be the rest of my life? I feel like I am sixty five and retired with two dogs and an ample amount of Crossfit classes. My potential roommate looked at me with a straight face over coffee the other day and said that she wakes up in the middle of the night and writes down “buy trashcan” and “make sure closet hangers have grips” in the notes section of her phone. Why do I find that not surprising whatsoever?  Why is that normal?

I am becoming my favorite poem.

“I had a dream the other night that I was checking my email. / That dream sucks.”

“I want everyone else’s club and job and class / The grass I sleep in always browner than / Than that around erasing dreams / To sit and breathe,” (Bygones, Marina Keegan).

We are going to college because we are ambitious, right? So we can make changes and run equestrian camps and make food in a nice way? So we can go to Iceland and have it cost way less money because you can spend half your days testing glaciers that are getting screwed over by climate change?

“Ambition is a choice. / Ambition is a race we chose to run / So we could get here so we could / I don’t know so we could save poor / People or invent something or be in charge.”

Is life all about “justifying with tomorrow’s bliss”? Is the todayness of today meant to suck for the tomorrowness of tomorrow? But if the todayness of today becomes the tomorrowness of a tomorrow, will it ever even out? Do we get tomorrows if our todays are meant for tomorrows? Am I supposed to work forty hours a week so I can go to Block Island and pay for my car insurance? What if I die? Will the forty hours count? Does Block Island fucking matter? What happens to my car insurance when I’m dead?

I guess I’m just pissed off because I can’t get my parents to buy me groceries for the rest of my life. And at some point in college someone is going to ask me what I want to be when I grow up, but joke’s on me, I’m grown up and I need to decide, and I don’t fucking know. I will still be mad about horse girls and missed opportunities because the grass on the other side is fucking greener and manicured and cut one inch and three quarters length with hairdressing scissors and mine has been overgrown since the third grade. The sky is so clear on the other side that they can see the Freedom Tower from Fairfield County in the early mornings and I’d be lucky to see a dusty Long Island on the clearest day.

But that’s the fucking thing. My side, my grass, is fine. It’s literally just fine. I may not give a shit about my priorities, but I wake up every morning alive and intact and eat oatmeal with blueberries, chia seeds, oatmeal squares, chocolate chips, and minimal water while watching Gilmore Girls and I’m pretty okay with that. I may not be going to Europe or Nova Scotia or Mykonos and my summer post-high school may not include drunken bike rides or a shred of emotional security, but it’s fine. And even though it is really shitty to hear this, people feel cloudy and overgrown too. And then they look at you and think that you see the Freedom Tower and use San Pellegrino to water your grass. But you don’t. You know that you are skating by. But the human race is too pretentious and thick headed to be transparent and real. People would prefer to pretend they got their TJ Maxx dress at Lilly Pulitzer rather than admit that hey, spending money is not something you can do and it’s fine. It’s all fine.

“The middle of the universe is here, is tonight, / And everything behind us is a sunk cost / Lost in our oceans and our oceans are deep.”

“So we beat on / birds flocking south until we / circle round and realize maybe / maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.”

(Read the full poem here)