By Julien-Pierre Campbell
Sitting at my computer in my drafty little apartment, I’m sure I’m just a few mouse-clicks from insanity. I’ve got company tonight and work tomorrow, an essay due the same day, a lengthy blog, an essay Thursday — and about 500 pages of reading. All must be done within days of each other. I’m barely 19 and this seems awfully overwhelming.
Work to pay the rent. Go to school so that you can one day leave your food service job. Perform on the weekends so you don’t go crazy. Remember to be an attentive boyfriend, help your friends heal from their extensive traumas because they simply cannot on their own. Ignore your mental health and need for sleep. Finish that book. Make that discussion post. Attend that rehearsal. Watch your spending.
I push the laptop away.
I’m wrong, I decide. Overwhelmed is just too small a word for it.
Such is the life of a college student.
And yet, as I type and type, read and read, I don’t feel unhappy. Swamped and unmoored, sleepy and irritable, yes, but never unhappy. There is a spark inside me that work and school cannot put out. A happiness that my dear friends’ pain cannot quash. A stability and faith that my own mental illnesses cannot kill.
I have hope: That one day I will be in the career I want. That my friends will not be tormented by their minds. That my workload will be manageable.
There’s no panacea for college stress. Yoga and color-coded planners work for some people. Isolation and crappy dining hall food works for others. Diving into my workload and insomnia works for me.
All I know is that I am happy. Imperfect and overwhelmed, but happy.
I log back into my laptop. I smile at the screen. And back to work I go.