The Overwhelmeds

Sometimes, I make bad decisions. I am generally a pretty obsessive, manic person, moreso when it comes to making decisions, so it doesn’t happen often – but when it does, you can bet I remember it.

I volunteered to be an Orientation Leader during the summer going into my junior year of college. My friends and I decided to do it together, and it did let us move back on campus 2 weeks earlier. I was pretty excited about introducing the freshwomen and transfer students to our beautiful campus and school. I’m a proud alum of Converse College, a women’s college with a strong enough liberal arts program to make me highly resent the little red misspelling squiggle under the word freshwomen above. But I digress.

Well, it turned out the OL position was not a healthy activity for me. For an extreme introvert who has trouble with transitions, a job that required 6 hours of sleep & the other 18 hours surrounded by large groups of people, a constant supply of extroverted energy, and NO rest period before classes started again…it wasn’t exactly ideal. Actually, that experience preceded one of the most trying and painful three-month-period in my twenty-one years and, I suspect, the rest of my life. Suffice it to say: bad decision.

Every year the OL team puts on a play of sorts that covers all of the major issues college fresh[wo]men need to be prepared to face – sexual orientation, time management (read: anti-procrastination campaigning), roommate problems, eating disorders, etc etc etc. It’s taken very seriously, and it’s always a lot of hard work, but fun. In one scene, the student is starting to go into total panic mode because of that particular combination of intimidation, exploration, and the aforementioned procrastination. Each of her problems is personified and all of them circle around the poor frantic student and yell together, “Overwhelmed Overwhelmed OVERWHELMED! For the rest of the year – and probably, our lives – whenever anyone says the word “overwhelmed,” this scene pops into our heads.

This scene has been in my head a LOT recently. It’s not so much the two internships, or the three separate writing projects – it’s the stuff piled on top of that. Every new idea for an article or post that pops into my head when I have no way of writing it down to remember it. The fact that none of my friends are living at home or dealing with “next step after college” dilemmas. The waiting for replies from other internships. The article out in TIME discussing how unpaid internships are no longer leading to paying jobs and companies are using them for slave labor. The thought that that will be my life. The exhaustion. The frustration. The cover letters to write and resumes to send and emails to compose and books to read and rooms to clean and people to please and phone calls to make and – well, I’ll stop before I start to raise your blood pressure.

I know that all of this is “normal.” But the ratio between the number of people who assure me of my normalcy and my stress level are not proportionate, and quite honestly, if this is normal I’d like to learn how to be as weird as possible.

I can very easily internalize my stress, but I have learned that that is not the healthiest decision I can make (see anecdote above). So I’m writing about it, because I don’t really feel like I have anyone to talk about with who I won’t put to sleep within thirty seconds.

Although if you need a nap, give me a call.

I’m writing about it to ask this: would you please eat an extra piece of chocolate for me, or hit the snooze button an extra time, or read an extra chapter in your book today? If I can somehow decrease your stress, even just a tiny bit, it might give me a little more hope that I can & will dig myself out from under the “overwhelmeds.” Other than driving me crazy, they are taking up brain space usually occupied by new muffin recipes and daydreams about nutella truffles and such, and that simply will not do.

mountain house view (9)


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