Tag Archives: Stress

Wow, That Sucked

I was plagued by influenza for the past eight days.

And wow, did that suck.

I’m still not fully recovered. My body is achy, this cough continues to linger and even going back to work today is taking it’s toll, but I’m nowhere near as bad as I was the past week and a half, and for that, I am ridiculously thankful. I can’t remember the last time I was that sick. I’ve definitely never been sick in that kind of way before; to the point where your body is literally so weak, you can’t actually function. You can’t move, you barely have the energy to eat, let alone do things like shower or walk from room to room. Your entire body aches and becomes sore. I felt like I was coughing up a lung every time I coughed and, towards the end, struggled enough to need an inhaler, just to help after a really bad coughing spell.

Oh, I was also on my period and couldn’t stop focusing on the consequences of being practically bedridden for past two weeks.

Trust me, you don’t need anxiety and stress on top of not feeling well, but I had it in droves, particularly about missing work. Though I had a doctor’s note and I very obviously should not be in public with anyone, lest I infect them, too, and spread this unhappiness around, I kept worrying–like I do–that I was going to lose my job for something completely out of my control. Which obviously wasn’t going to happen, yet that stress was there, too. Not to mention I fell behind on everything: writing, reading, blogging. And I missed all the fun things, like two DnD sessions and a family gathering I’d been looking forward to all week.

Saying that the last week and a half sucked feels like an understatement and I’m not even 100% healthy, yet. Yet it also was a needed reminder, even if I wouldn’t have minded getting the reminder in a different manner.

In a blink of an eye, my life was swept out from under me and suddenly I was ill as ill can be. The entire To-Do List I made for the week? Unaccomplished. Goals I’d set? Forget about them. I missed meetings and work, phone dates and time with family, hanging out with friends and even just going outside. All of these things are things I enjoy doing…most of the time.

Lately, I’ve found myself complaining a little more than usual. Not wanting to go to work, just out of laziness. Not wanting to work towards my two main goals–working out and writing–out of laziness and fear, respectively. So sometimes I’d be lazy or sometimes I’d complain, wishing I could do something else or wishing that I didn’t have to work for the things I wanted.

And then, with this flu, all choice was taken away. I had to lay there, in agony, and do nothing. It didn’t matter what I wanted.

Of course, it’s a really intense flu season right now and cases are being taken a bit more seriously thanks to the severity and the magnitude of the outbreak. When my chest started hurting, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you, with the anxiety like mine, that I feared hospitalization or perhaps even death (because my mind always goes to the worse case scenario) and all I could think about was everything I haven’t accomplished yet and how much I still want to do; how much I missed living. I kept thinking how lucky I have it, to have a job that provides for me, that I enjoy and can count on. I have dreams that I know how to chase and I’m taking the steps to do so, even if that’s hard to do, sometimes. Sure, sometimes I’d love to just spend the day at home playing PS4 all day, instead of working. Sure, I have complaints and bad days.

But damn, compared to suffering from whatever strand of the flu I had, I have the best life in the world.

Going forward, I’m hoping to remember that. Of course, there are still going to be days where I complain or days where I’m not feeling it. There are going to be days where laziness and fear and apathy and doubt win out over passion and creativity and hope and motivation. There will still be days when I take things for granted. But I’d like to lessen how often that happens by choosing to work, choosing to be grateful, choosing to remember how quickly everything can change and suddenly, choice is the last option available to me.

Stay healthy, friends.


PS: Also, a quick shout out is in order, both generally and then specifically. When you get that sick, you also get really lucky to know how much people care about you. To my family and my friends who reached out to me and wished me well, including my parents, people from work, my Grandma, my writing group and then still others, I can’t tell you how much that was appreciated and how much that made me feel loved. So thank you.

But I also got to thank my boyfriend, who I don’t think likes public adoration very much, but he doesn’t read my blog, so he won’t get embarrassed by me gushing on him for a bit. 😉 I’ve never had a boyfriend when I’ve been sick before and I never realized how amazing it can be to have someone take care of you when you can barely move; someone who does your laundry and runs to the store and buys everything on your list (and then some); someone who checks in on you and adds another blanket when you get cold and makes you eggs a billion times in one week, because you’re craving it and can keep it down; who doesn’t complain when you keep them up all night coughing, who takes off work to take you to the doctor when you’re too weak to drive, who stays up late playing Borderlands with you after you slept all day and can’t sleep any longer.

Babe, you’re amazing and I don’t deserve you, and I will never be able to thank you enough. You’re positively wonderful.


This Post is Definitely All Over The Place

I’ve written about my brain before.

Sometimes, my brain really sucks.

You know, like how it always goes to the worst case scenario whenever a situation pops up. Or how I overthink every little thing, to the point of exhaustion. Or how the combination of these things makes life just a little more complicated than it needs to be and even though this happens over and over and over again, I still repeat the same cycle.

Let’s go on some ramblings, shall we?

This year, I met a really wonderful guy. I fell for said wonderful guy and I’m very elated to be his girl. I’m hoping it stays that way for a long time, if I’m being honest. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever been in and, needless to say, that comes with a lot of firsts. Yet it’s also the first time I’ve really experienced a lot of the…more complicated aspects of being in a relationship, I guess? I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, but I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself.

I realized I have jealousy issues, so that’s fun. Fear of abandonment, thanks to all the guys who liked me, but choose a different girl instead. Super rad. Still got those bouts of confidence droughts that have followed me since middle school, which is every guy’s turn on, right? Sometimes, I struggle to open up to him about how I’m feeling, just because I care about this man so damn much that I don’t want to lose him over being a crying emotional mess, which, in turn, makes whatever I’m struggling with, build up and up and up until I break, and I end up being a crying mess, anyway (which, btw, if a guy is willing to leave you because you’re human and you feel things, maybe he isn’t the right guy for you? Luckily, my human is the exact opposite and is one of the most empathetic, patient souls I know).

Oh, and I really struggle at balancing things.

You see, this morning, I got a really surprising offer: to go on vacation with his family. Next week. To Disney World (I know, right? I’ve never been to Disney World *cue excited screaming*). Last minute, sure, but super exciting. Honestly, a trip of a lifetime.

Yet what’s the first thing I do?


Can I even get off work? Do I have enough vacation time? How am I going to afford it? Will I piss off my family, being gone the entire week before Christmas? What about changing my eye doctor appointment or my phone call date with my friend?

the incredibles slapping GIF

Which then began the spiral of anxiety and overthinking that related to that balancing struggle I mentioned above. You see, ever since I started seeing him, he quickly became a really important aspect of my life. I want him to stay that way. My life began to become more busy, with dates and hanging out with his friends, things like that. So, some things, that I used to do when I was single, have sorta stopped happening. Like having an abundant amount of free time, not leaving my apartment for three days in a row, playing my PS4 way too much…

Seeing my family.

This has been bothering me for a while. Between working nights five days a week, having two different DnD groups that take up two large chunks of my weekend and then a man who actually wants to spend time with me, for a change, and suddenly, my family has been put on the back burner. Which really isn’t okay with me. If you know me, you know how important my family is to me, so the fact that I’m going a month–if not longer–between seeing them when I live less than an hour away, is really not working.

Then, you add in the changes that I’m experiencing for the first time, mainly the “being-in-a-relationship-during-the-holidays” shenanigans. Balancing two Thanksgivings and two Christmases has been something I’ve never had to do and it’s been a challenge for me personally (though this is a challenge I’ve always wanted to experience and I couldn’t have found a better man to experience it with). I want to spend time with my man during the holidays, obviously. I want him to be able to see his family and I want to get to know them better. But, my family is everything to me, so I want to spend time with them, too. Yet there’s still only so much time in the day, especially during the holidays.

Cue stress and anxiety.

Especially when I don’t tell anyone involved about any of these feelings.

Which results in bawling your eyes out in stress, fearing that you’re going to piss off your family to go on a vacation you really want to go on with your boyfriend, while also trying to figure out logistics of said vacation mere days before it happens while being a Type A planner, and oh, you’ve been on your period for over a week now.

You might be getting a mental picture of where I was at, this morning.

There are a few important things I’m missing, here.

One: I must stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Though I have gotten better about this, I do really need to take this advice to heart and follow it like it’s my religion. Because at the end of the day, this is my one shot at living the best life I can and the happiest life I can. If I want to take a day off work to do something else, I can (without worrying that my boss is suddenly going to think I’m lazy). If I want to spend the day with my man, I should do that (without feeling guilty it’s been a few weeks since I’ve hung out with my family). If I want to go and have dinner with my folks, I should do that (without stressing that my man is going to get irritated that I love my family so much).

I’ve gotten a lot better at being true to myself: being that nerdy, LOTR-obsessed, quiet, introspective, passionate, straight-edge, hopeless romantic I’ve always been, but sometimes too scared to stay true to. Now, I’ve got to also give myself permission to do what I want, as well, without considering every other party before I make a decision (because half the time, my anxiety is giving them untrue opinions/reactions to those choices to being with, which just makes everything unnecessarily complicated).

Two: Perhaps throw a little trust around, eh?

I have this ingrained fear of pissing people off. My friends, family, boyfriend, all of them are included in this fear, no one is exempt. I can’t really describe where this fear comes from, but it taints a lot of my thoughts and fuels a lot of my anxiety and my decisions. Yet it’s also wrong, because none of those people have ever given me a reason to doubt them or my relationships with them–not to mention the strength of those relationships, which I’m very lucky to have strong ones in each regard. I need to start trusting in that strength and the people that I care about; trust that their care for me is genuine and it’s not going to dissipate the moment things get rocky.

Three: The people I love can’t know what I’m thinking/feeling/needing if I don’t tell them. 

Self-explanatory, but apparently something I really struggle with. Gotta love the introverted shyness coming out in me, forcing me to resort to writing letters or long texts or hiding notes or passive aggressive blog posts to communicate how I’m feeling about something; causing me to wait until whatever’s concerning me has reached the boiling over point and I become the crying mess I was this morning. A mess who was answered by an understanding family, excited that I’m going on an awesome trip, instead of being angry or feeling jipped, like I feared; and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand why I’m not hanging out with my family more, because he knows how important they are to me–and isn’t going to go anywhere, if I do.


It’s safe to say, friends, that I’ve still got a lot of learning to do: in life, in love and in learning how to balance the two.



My Life Can Be Told By The Awkward Yeti

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First off, I love The Awkward Yeti web comic. It’s fantastic and never fails to be absolutely relateable to my life.

This picture popped up on my newsfeed the other day and felt particularly apt.

I’ve written about it before, how my overthinking and anxiety causes me to focus on the negative instead of the positive (even though I usually have a glass-is-overflowing kind of mindset); how I’ll come up with the worse possible outcome and immediately assume that’s how the situation is going to end; how my brain will hone in on that one bad thing and completely miss all the good things that are just as important and obvious, yet completely overshadowed.

Obviously, those struggles are captured perfectly in the comic above.

It’s particularly apt because this past week, I’ve had a bit of a weird week. It’s been a mix of having days where I felt completely on top of everything and days where I was as lazy as the definition allows and felt worthless. It was a mix of feeling, oddly, at peace with how lucky I am in my life; how there are so many good aspects and elements within it that makes it hard to complain about anything at all; juxtaposed with feeling those familiar desires to overthink and lose it to stress hinting at the edges of my consciousness, desperate for that microscopic focus and attention that blurs out anything else. It’s been a mix of feeling totally content and utterly scared.

And then I saw that comic.

A needed reminder, if I ever saw one. I have a heart desperate to recognize all the good in life, even when it’s harder to see or there are other, negative distractions waiting to capture my attention. Of course, this will always be a work in progress. I’ll always have days where that picture describes me perfectly. But I want to work on having more days where I’m more like Heart and less like Brain (even though both are very important).


Also, here’s some of my other favorites from The Awkward Yeti. Enjoy. 🙂


Frankly, I Have No Idea What to Title This Post

There’s a line from Twenty One Pilot’s “Migraine” that says, “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind.”

I really love that line.

I also wish they gave advice on how to do just that.

I’m an over-thinker. A worrywart, as my companions and parents growing up dubbed me. I’ve always been this way. I know I’m not alone in this, but sometimes, that knowledge doesn’t help me deal with my incessant need to look at every angle of a situation–and often situations that haven’t happened yet, but are possible–and then fixate on the worst possible one, causing anxiety, stress and depression to set in as I then obsess over this outcome. Which, nine times out of ten, doesn’t even come true.

But let’s not keep this simple. Let’s include the heart into this, add another layer of complexity.

I’m a big believer of following your heart. It’s why mine is so scarred. I’m not afraid to chase what it wants without abandon. Some believe that’s foolish. Yet that’s not something I’m going to change. I’m sure it comes to no surprise that often, the heart and the mind conflict, even to the point where the mind overrules the heart and makes it confused on what it even wants, which makes it even harder to come to a decision about what to do in X situation.

Hold on, though. Still not complicated enough. Then add in the need to please others and the reliance on your fellow’s good opinion and approval.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Welcome into the mind of Nicole.

‘Tis a confusing place.

Of course, I have a specific conundrum in mind: my love life. It’s complicated and confusing and conflicting, which I think is the most difficult thing to deal with. At any given moment, my mind will tell me to do one thing and my heart will agree. The next, my mind and heart splits. Another second passes and my heart has completely changed its tune, but now my head is questioning. And then you add in the opinions of everyone else I value–and don’t forgot the overthinking mind that doesn’t fail to look into every possible solution into every possible scenario, and frankly?

I’m just at a loss.

Here’s the situation (you might have gathered inklings about it from this postthis post or this post. Sorry my complicated love life has taken over this blog. But this blog is my outlet and I’ve never been confused like this before. Ergo, a lot of emotionally-charged posts).

Entered into a FWB relationship which actually felt and was treated like more of an actual relationship, just in secret. Not surprising that, on my end, feelings developed and complications arose. I “left” and then came back, twice, before finally deciding to leave the “benefits” side of a relationship and trade it for a “just friends” side, so I could move on emotionally and find someone who’d be capable and willing to meet both my needs and my wants. It’s been…hard, but I’m getting there. What’s been the hardest, however, is being plagued with one question:

What if? 

Because while I left because I needed more stability, more commitment and more certainty, I’ve been lost in this realm of uncertainty ever since. Because though the “relationship” is officially “over,” there are some small seeds of hope that it could still actually blossom into something real. So we could, potentially, still have a chance at having a relationship. Or I could say no, if that question was ever asked. Or it could never be asked and I could find someone else. Or I could find no one. There are so many different ways this could pan out and there are plenty of What Ifs to accompany each route.

What if we date and everything is as amazing as I always thought it would be? What if it’s everything I ever wanted? What if we completely fall on our faces and the relationship crumbles? What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot for giving him another chance? What if everyone hates him? What if I miss out on the guy “meant for me” because I gave him another chance? What if he is the one meant for me and I gave him up too early because it took a little work beforehand? What if I end up alone forever (but kill it as your ultimate dog lady)? 

Yeah, sometimes, my mind sucks.

There are just so many elements in play: my emotions, my feelings, logic, the opinions of others…all of which conflict and fight each other on a daily basis, which isn’t exactly comforting.

You got the feelings I have for the guy that everyone I care about tells me “didn’t treat me right” and constantly reminds me that I can “do better and deserve better,” yet part of me still wants to try because he does mean so much to me and I know he could treat me exactly the way I “deserve.” But then that raises logical questions, like, why hasn’t he already? What made him take so long to chose me; which, in turn, brings up some questions regarding trust. Yet he’s also made me happier than any man before him. Doesn’t that count for something?

Then I look at all the relationships I’ve ever known. All of them have had some sort of conflict, at one point or another. To varying degrees of complexity and difficulty. Some started great and got rough in the middle, only to become stronger. Some started out difficult and took work, but made it in the end. And very few have been really solid throughout it all, hardly a hiccup in sight. And sometimes, when people tell me that I can “do better,” I want to point out that every relationship is different and maybe this one is just experiencing the rough patches at the beginning. I want to ask not to be so quick to judge, even though I know everyone is just looking out for me and wants me to be happy. And I haven’t been happy, recently. So I understand that. It just adds another level of complexity.

And then you get all of those corny quotes telling you to never pick a guy who made you question or made you guess or made you walk away. Then there’s the small excitement of meeting someone new, wondering who is out there for me and the excitement of flirting and getting to know someone; battle that against the comfort of already knowing someone and admitting there are some challenges there, but there is also certain happiness, as well. Then there’s the fear of never finding anyone else juxtaposed with the fear that I already found them, but I’m just giving them up because it takes work and everyone else tells me I should and they are proud of me for finally letting go of something less than what I deserve. But is that really what want?

Yeah, I’d love to just kill my mind for an hour now, thanks.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to two things: choice and risk.

Everything is uncertain. I have no idea if said dude will ever want to try an actual relationship with me. I honestly have no idea if I’m willing to try, if he wants to–my heart and hope scream yes at the same time my mind, my doubts and my fears shout no. I have no idea how I’d meet anyone else or what I’d say if I did. I have no idea about any of this and all this worrying and thinking I’ve done in the past week isn’t really helping.

Regardless of whatever happens, the choice is mine. And though I do recognize that I really rely (a bit too much) on the approval of others, I have to trust that those closest to me will support whatever decision I make. And I need to let myself make that decision, without basing it off the opinions of others.

Even though I’ve been searching for the right answer, through talking and blogging and praying, I think I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t one. There is no right answer. That’s why it’s a risk.

I can’t know that my choices are going to be the best ones. I have no idea how they are going to affect my future or if they are going to hurt me or make me happy. There is no guarantee that whatever choice I make is going to be the right or the wrong one. Because that’s what risk is. It’s making a choice and sticking with it even though you don’t know the end. It’s trying to decipher the feelings in your gut and learning to follow them. It’s talking with those involved and learning to trust them. It’s finding a balance between hope and logic.

At the end of the day, it’s weighing everything I’ve been describing and more, and then finally making a choice, trusting yourself to make the right one. It’s accepting the aftermath and forgiving yourself when you make the wrong one. It’s having the courage to change your choice, if that happens. Or the courage to stay, depending. Or even trusting yourself enough to believe that you made the right choice and believing that everything is good, even when it feels too good to be true.

That realization doesn’t make figuring out my love life any easier. I know that I definitely don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m trying my best to follow my heart wherever it guides me (even if that journey is a bit confusing, at times). I’m doing the best I can and I’ll take a small comfort in that. Because all I can do is try and follow my heart, trusting it to guide me true. Even it it leads to failure and ruin, at least I gave it my all.

Hopefully, when I look back at all of my choices, no matter how many were “right” and “wrong,” I’ll be able to take comfort and avoid regret, knowing that I did the best I could navigating this quest called life; amidst every wrong turn, pleasant surprise, lucky break, difficult choice, second chance, mistake, celebration and achievement, I tried and followed my heart.

Can we really ask ourselves to do more than that?


Non-Existent Eggshells

(Tangent before the post even begins: I totally want to use that as a title, for something. So I call dibs.)

I’ve been realizing lately that I do those closest to me the absolute greatest disservice by treating them like eggshells to be tiptoed around. This is especially ridiculous because they don’t deserve any such treatment in the slightest and I can’t even really explain why my actions lately are to treat every relationship like it is founded on non-existent eggshells.

I don’t have much of a social life. I’ve never really had what you’d probably label as a traditional social life, full of partying and going out on the weekends and drinking. Mine has always been much more low-key, hanging out in living rooms, gorging on chips and talking too much while YouTube plays in the background. And I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yet as each year goes by, I grow more introverted by nature. I find myself spending more time alone, as my favorite hobbies are all solitary: writing, reading, video games, blogging. I’ve always loved doing those things, but growing up, in high school and in college, there was always something else to break up those hobbies; something involving other people. A club. A class. Meeting the group for dinner. Soccer practice.

Ever since graduating college, it’s been very different.

Go to sleep. Go to Job One, where we are usually too busy to talk to anyone. Go to the gym alone. Shower. Eat and get ready for Job Two. Socialize a bit with my employees, but I usually have to cut that out so I have time to write. Go home. Sleep. Repeat. Though I love my main job, my schedule–working from the early afternoon until 12am Sunday through Thursday–makes it nigh impossible to fit in any socializing throughout the week. Then, my weekends, which consists of Friday evenings and Saturdays, are always jammed packed to the brim, trying to fit in time with the few friends I still have and my family, putting me in a constant struggle of trying to have enough time to see everyone I care about on a consistent basis.

Amidst all of this, I find myself worrying that all of these relationships are going to disappear. A lot of my other relationships have disappeared. My group of high school, I have one friend (and she’s a lifelong friend) who I still cherish. A few others I talk to occasionally. And one friendship that I hope is about to rekindle. My college friends? Gone, too. Some I still text occasionally or run into, but most of them have moved away and started careers, gotten engaged or married, talking about starting families. So the few relationships that have stuck it out throughout the change, I cherish more than I ever have before (and I’ve always cherished them deeply). But with that love towards those relationships, there is a new fear; a fear that if I miss one hang session, I’ll piss someone off. If I don’t text someone for a day, they are angry with me. When I try to juggle these relationships over the weekend, that’s when this fear materializes the most. What if, by hanging out with X friend instead of Y friend, Y friend is angry? If I stay home instead of visiting people, will they be angry? Will I lose them? 

These are the non-existent eggshells that I walk on.

Keyword: non-existent.


You see, to me, these eggshells, for some undefined reason that I seriously cannot pin down, are very real. The fear is there. This fear that all of these relationships I hold so dear are suddenly going to disappear or be ruined by my actions/inaction. Which doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. First off, the relationships I have now are the ones that have lasted the longest. If nothing else, these are the ones meant to last, because they’ve already persevered through so much. Yet I’m over here treating them as if they are brand new, to be gently held and tiptoed around, as if they are fragile. They aren’t.

Secondly, I feel it is such an insult to those relationships for me to be questioning their longevity or fearing their end. These people–my best friend, my parents, my sister, amongst a few others–have done absolutely nothing to cause me to question. Sure, sometimes we don’t talk as much as I would like or we don’t get to see one another every week. But hell, that’s life. And when you’re working 60 hours a week like I am, the main bulk of those being worked when everyone else if off, yeah, it’s going to be a little more difficult to make plans and see people. You won’t get to do everything you want to in one weekend. You’ll have to put off plans or have weekends where you don’t make any, just to recharge. That’s my reality now. A change, certainly, but nothing warranting these fears.

So why the hell are they there?

I have no bloody idea.

I do know that I hate it. I hate being so nervous all of the time and so insecure in this area. If there is any aspect of my life for me to feel confident and secure in, it is the relationships I’ve built with those closest to me. The relationships that have battled growth and change and conflict and come out stronger. The relationships that deserve more than my misplace fear; deserve more than to be treated as eggshells that will shatter as soon as I come near them.

I’m not sure why these fears are there. I’m not sure exactly how to combat them, honestly. I’m talking with one of my friends now about it. Though my stomach is still in knots, I do feel better than she knows and understands exactly how I feel–which is impressive in and of itself, considering I’m feeling a load of different things all at once: Loneliness. Fear. Sadness. Stress. Neediness. Anxiety. Guilt. This weekend, I have plans to see almost everyone that I care about the most, which will be really nice and really, really needed. So those things are happening. But at the same time, I’m sort of at a loss about what to do with the jumble of feelings inside of me. I am certain that I don’t like this unease that has crept into me and making me feel so skittish and inadequate and alone. Advice, my internet friends (particularly those 20-somethings like me who are trying to navigate this complicated life known as “adulting”), would be most welcome.


An Anxiety-Riddled Weekend

For the first time in a long time, I found myself counting down the days until the weekend was over, hoping that by the time Monday came around, everything would be okay.

It all started with me feeling good, even slightly accomplished. I have anxiety on various levels regarding different things and one of them is talking on the phone. I’m not 100% sure why this is an anxiety-trigger for me, but it is. So one afternoon, after making lunch, I managed to suppress it long enough to call and schedule not only an apartment showing, but also to get recall repairs done with my car (which I had been putting off for a little over a month). I felt accomplished. I felt like I was adulting and doing it well. I have a decent amount saved up in my bank account and I recently applied for a job that, if I get it, would solve a lot of financial problems. Things were looking good.

Cue apartment showing. The apartment itself was cute, albeit small and, since we were being showed a place where a tenant currently lived, trashed. That was a bit disappointing, but I still liked the apartment and thought I could make things work with it. So I started making tentative plans of possibly moving into one around the end of the summer and wrapping my mind around the paycheck-to-paycheck living that would induce. Even looking at the cheapest apartment I could find, bringing in paying for loans and not getting cable/internet, I was looking at $50 extra a month after bills. So not exactly exciting, but with my savings, it was doable.

Fast-forward to Friday, when I took my car to the shop. I’ve always had old cars, so I have massive anxiety when taking them up to the car shop, because no matter what I take it in for, nth number of problems arise and I always owe over a grand in repairs. Luckily, my friend surprised me and we got to go eat lunch and run some errands during the repairs, so I didn’t sit wallowing in anguish waiting for my wallet to drain. We get back and the recall repair went smoothly and they changed my oil. Damage: $33 dollars. The relief is beyond anything I’ve felt in a long time. I skipped out to Smaug–that’s what I named her, with her maroon color and my love for dragons–started her up and left the lot. As I turned out of the lot, I touched the brakes as a car is about to drive past.

She didn’t stop.

I slammed my foot down and the other car swerved as I barely managed to get the car to stop. My entire body shook. Why weren’t my brakes suddenly working? I managed to get her turned around and back to the shop. Of course, this situation only grows worse because my natural response to most emotions is to cry (not to mention my period, at that point, was only days away from beginning, so the waterworks were in high supply and overeager). So I walked back in, found the gent that was helping me, my eyelids brimmed with tears, and tell him my breaks weren’t working. He discovered that not only was I out of break fluid, but there was also a leak. Plus, oil leaks. And advised me to drive really careful on the way home, because it isn’t particularly safe until I get that looked at. I had told him previously I had a friend who was a mechanic that was going to fix my taglight (as, a week or so earlier, I got pulled over for the second time in my life for having my taglight go out) so he suggested that I had that friend take a look at my breaks. And then he left.

Sidenote: Only after I got home did I think that perhaps the car dealership that did the repairs was to blame for the faulty breaks. I just wrote it off as miraculous timing on my part. I also didn’t even think about asking them to look at my car, as the man made it seem like that wasn’t an option and I just wanted to get out of there before I started truly crying. Not the best situation all-around, in hindsight.

Shaking uncontrollably and braking each time by touching the pedal to the floor and stopping at least 100 feet behind the car in front of me at each stoplight–pissing off all the drivers around–I made it home. Midway through, the dam broke and I’m bawling, yet only out of one eye, I noticed at a stoplight. Still shaking, the skin around my eyes and on my cheeks tight, I run into the bathroom to avoid my brother, lest he see me as a hot mess. I get in the bath and finish out my stress-and-anxiety-induced-crying-session, with one conclusion: I have to bite the bullet and get a new car. I’ve been putting it off as long as I could, fixing Smaug every time she broke down. It was proving too dangerous and too costly to continue doing so. Yet the problem remained:

I don’t have any money. Not enough to afford a new car or a higher car payment, that’s for dang sure. Yet I have to commute to work. And just a few days prior, I was struggling to figure out how to come up with paying for the cheapest apartment I could find in the town where I work; and that was before I had to consider a higher car payment. Plus, my first payment for my student loan comes out next week. Oh, and this all happened on Friday and I was supposed to start back up at work on Sunday. Yet I needed a new car.

Yeah, let’s say I was more than a little stressed out, as flashbacks to the stresses that inspired my Catch-22: My Life Edition post came rearing their ugly heads again. Friday night was spent with a lot of tears in front of my parents as they were both forced to rearrange their Saturdays so they could go with me to the dealership–because even if I didn’t want their expertise, which I definitely did, I don’t make enough to get a new car without a co-signer. I didn’t sleep, riddled with the anxiety of trying to buy a reliable car without money and contemplating selling my organs, plus trying to avoid being conned and ripped off, as is common with places like car dealerships.

We’ll fast-forward through Saturday, as trust me, it doesn’t make for a riveting story. The only highlight of the day was when I sat outside and read Jeff Salyards’ Chains of the Heretic for almost two hours before we left for the dealership–the only ounce of peace I managed all weekend, despite the book not being peaceful at the slightest. Damn Deserters. Left home at four, got home at 11:30pm, but came home with a used 2015 model that had working a/c, a radio that didn’t stop working when you hit bumps in the road, a plug-in for an IPod, plus so many other features so foreign to me, previously never owning a car that was less than 10+ years older than the current year.

Oh, and a car payment double what I had previously.

It’s Monday. I’m back at work. I’m still getting used to having a car that actually functions and trying to get used to driving it (as, of course, I get anxiety driving, as well, regardless of what car I drive). I have a trip to the DMV to look forward to. I didn’t submit the application to the apartments as I need to reevaluate my financial situation. Again. I’m so thankful that weekend is over. I’m thankful for my supportive parents who helped out and dealt with my tears, my frustrations and my anxiety, while giving me support and rides and advice. And I’m stressed out. Like I always have been, money drives me mental and makes me want to curl into a ball and never unfurl. My anxiety has been worse of late and I feel myself unfolding, dangerously, and losing hope that I’ll ever make it out in the “real world,” if I ever figure out what “making it” means.

Yet life is good.

Why? Because for the first time ever, I have a safe, reliable car I can depend on (and a stereo finally befitting of my  hardcore jams). I’m reading a good book that kept me up past my bedtime last night and I didn’t even regret it this morning when my alarm went off at eight. I just started writing a new book about a character I have already fallen in love with, yet I’m only five pages in. My coworkers greeted my return today with warmth. My dog and I have walked for two weeks straight now and I get to take him on a walk when I get home tonight. There are yummy leftovers in the fridge and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out on DVD, finally.

Yes, I’m stressed out. Yes, I’m struggling. But a part of me believes that every 20-something, every young professional, goes through struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck at the beginning; almost like a rite-of-passage type of deal. So I’m going through that rite now (ha, look at that witticism. Look at it!). And a lot of it sucks. But life doesn’t suck. Not having a lot of money and always keeping a tight wallet is a bummer, but it isn’t the end of the world. Life is still great, regardless of those factors. And one day, I’ll make it. Until then, I’ll keep pushing, struggling, stressing and finding the things that make life worthwhile and chokeholding them to remind me that regardless of it all, there are still good things and good people in the world. I desperately hope you had a better weekend!


PS: In case you were wondering, I did already name my new car. She’s named the nickname I wish I was cool enough to give myself, because I think it is just awesome. Her name is Dovahkiin.

Losing the Importance of a Moment

Hello dear readers! It has been some time since I’ve written and I apologize for that. I have no excuses. And, as some of you may know, I graduate from college in less than a week (yeah, that’s was terrifying to write down. Okay, moving forward…). And, as some of you may also know — and as everyone has asked — as far as post-graduation plans, my options are still wide open (which is the polite way to say that after July, I have no plans…none, whatsoever.) I applied for grad school and got rejected twice (though I believe my third rejection is about to be confirmed), so I opened that door and then it closed. I found a job for the summer that will give me a nice cushion to sit on after I get paid, so that will be nice, going from having almost nothing to almost enough to make rent on a low-quality apartment. And I’m going on an awesome family vacation that I absolutely cannot wait to go on. So yeah, I have some plans.

But none of those are the types of plans people are asking about when they ask you what you’re doing after graduation. They want to know what your life plan is. They want to know what pay-off you’ve snagged — in the form of a job, the start of a career — after spending four years and thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a college education. They want to know what your degree was “worth.” That is what family and friends are asking, starting, literally, the first day of your senior year, when they ask, “What are you doing after graduation?” or “What happens next?”

And every time, I have given the same sort of answer: “I dunno yet,” or “I’m not sure,” or “Still figuring it out.” And you know the type of responses I get, the different kinds of looks: of scorn, of concern, of pity, with a few occasional high fives and wishes of luck. But I also have support, from my parents and siblings, and the closest of friends. But the majority of people look at me and wonder, What is this English major going to do with her life, if she still doesn’t have it figured out yet?

And for the longest time, I listened to them. I was freaking out, not knowing what was in store for me next. Especially as my other friends who are also graduating find jobs and sign leases, talking about all the amazing things they are about to go and do — not all of them, but most of them. And I was freaking out that I wasn’t the same, that I still didn’t have everything figured out yet. And then I had to complete my Loan Exit Counseling. I thought I was poor now. Come October, then I will know what being poor means. Good thing I’m not afraid to live a very frugal life.

A lot of different factors were weighing in and the pressure was building. A week out from graduation and still not a job in sight. But a few weeks ago, I was talking with my Mom and expressing my fears and frustrations, feeling the impossibility of surviving as a “real adult” amounting to be too much for me. And she looked at me and asked me why I was freaking out so much. I’m not going to be homeless come Sunday. I have my family’s house I can stay in. And I have plans for the summer. And during the summer, I can continue to job search and look at my options. I can always stay at home and save up my money, then get an apartment somewhere. I could work a part time job for a few months — enough to pay a few of my bills — and stay home and write almost full-time, really dedicate time to my book and trying to find representation. And I could pray — which I have been, often. I could trust in God that I got rejected for a reason; that I haven’t found a job for a reason.

But then, she pointed out something else: I’m graduating from college. I’m graduating from the university I’ve always dreamed of attending. I’m graduating with Honors in a field that is my passion. This is a big deal. This is an important time in my life where my hard work these last four years are paying off in a degree. This is an important time because I get to look back at all the things I’ve done, all that I’ve accomplished, all the friendships I’ve made and the hardships I’ve suffered, and be thankful to have lived through it all. This is an amazing time of my life, but my Mom correctly pointed out I wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t enjoying it because I was too busy stressing out what I’m going to do for the rest of my life: work; stressing out what was happening next. Instead of celebrating the fact that I’m graduating and enjoying my last few weeks on campus, I was stressing too much about the future; I was comparing myself too much to my peers; I was losing the importance of the moment.

I woke up, after that conversation, thank goodness. Sure, I’m still stressed about finding a job. I’m still nervous about what my future holds and surviving on my own. But I’m not letting that be the forefront or the focus of all my efforts and thoughts. No, instead I focused on enjoying the last few weeks of classes. I focused on truly looking around as I walked through campus, at all the buildings that make it up, and all the memories associated with them. I focused on cherishing the friends that I have made and living in the moment with them. And now, the last finals week of my collegiate career, I’m focusing on getting pumped for graduation. I’m getting stoked for my Honors ceremony on Friday, where I can finally get the wizard’s hat I’ve been dreaming about since I was a freshman (don’t worry if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, it’s an English major thing). I’m becoming ecstatic about finally getting to walk through the Campanile and walking down that hill. I’m decorating my cap. I’m anxiously awaiting my grad party, where I can celebrate being blessed and capitalizing on amazing opportunities that college presented to me with all of my closest family and friends.

I’m living in this moment, because I deserve it. I deserve to recognize and remember the amazing life I’ve lived the past four years. And then — only after I truly enjoy and embrace this amazing moment in my life — I will get excited about my future; not stressed, not freaking out, like I have been, but excited. Because not only did I just accomplish something great, but I have the world at my fingertips, now. I may have an English degree, but maybe I will apply to be a zoo keeper for a year. Maybe I will work at a local bookstore or a library, living off a meager salary but enjoying the hell out of helping people find their next favorite author (while not so slyly pushing my own favorites in their direction). Maybe I will try and find a publishing gig or work as an editor or for a newspaper or for a video game company, expanding my horizons and trying something new. Maybe I will move out of the state and work at a bank, just to live somewhere different. Maybe I will work at a shitty job that pays well so I can save up and do something else I’d enjoy much more in the future. Maybe I’ll move out of the country or travel the world.

Why would I do any of those things? Because I can. Because the world is waiting for me and my options are limitless. Don’t limit yourself to your degree (but don’t be afraid to pursue your degree, either). If you really want to work in a flower shop even though you’re an accountant, then go and smell those roses. Just because we’re graduating college doesn’t mean we have to start our career right way. We have time and the opportunity to try new things or to take risks. The thing is, I’m a writer and I got my degree to support that. But that doesn’t mean that I have to go work for a publishing company. I can write no matter what else I do. So can you. You can always teach, even if you aren’t inside a classroom. You can help people, even if you don’t have an organization’s logo on your business card. If you are truly passionate about something, you will incorporate it into your life. It would be harder not to.

The lesson I am trying to pass on is this: yes, I graduate in six days and I have no idea what I’m doing afterwards. I have no interviews and no apartment and no plan. And I’m not going to freak about it anymore, because I’m lucky. I have support from those who matter most. I have all the opportunity in the world ahead of me and I’m a smart woman. I’ll figure it out, by doing what feels right and makes me happy. But, until then, I’m going to ride the waves and enjoy it. I’m going to graduate and love it. I’m going to laugh and cry and it will be amazing. Why would I lessen my life by ignoring the joy of the present by stressing out about the fears of the future? That would be a mistake, a heavy mistake, indeed. I’m so glad my Mom called me out on it before it was too late. Here, through this blog, hopefully I can catch a few terrified souls and help them, too. Because you’re okay. You’ve got this. Enjoy the moment, work hard in the present and your future will follow. Have faith in yourself and those you’ve surrounded yourself by. We can do this, Class of 2015. We can totally do this.