I don’t watch what I eat. I mean yeah, we shop at Trader Joe’s, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and I can throw words at you like hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup. But in general, if I want that donut, I’m gonna eat it. I don’t hold back. I snack A LOT. I know where every “hidden” candy stash is in my house. I can’t say no to ice cream and I don’t always eat my vegetables. I try to exercise regularly, but I’m definitely not in the best shape. And I am skinny. I know that I’m skinny. Not because I try to be, but just because I am (metabolism or something, idk science). Now please stop telling me. Stop saying it like being told I’m skinny is the best compliment you could give me. Or like it’s something that I control. Just stop. The word “skinny” is a BODY TYPE. Not. A. Compliment. Stop associating skinny with good and fat with bad. These words are simply used to describe our bodies. They shouldn’t have any other positive/negative connotations attached to them. No no no no no just stop it because body size is completely irrelevant to beauty. Skinny doesn’t equate being healthy or pretty or even ideal. We need to promote having a healthy body over a skinny one, and that starts with stoping the glorification thinness. Of course, because our culture looks unfavorably upon being overweight (fat shaming), it’s considered wrong to make a comment about someone who is overweight. Most of us know that this is alienating, offensive, and insecurity-inducing. But what about the opposite? Making a comment about someone’s thinness, why is that considered a compliment? For whatever reason, this second kind of comment about someone’s weight has become socially acceptable, which is insensitive and not okay.
I just spent the weekend dealing with comments like “it looks like you haven’t eaten” and “oh why don’t you eat more.” I’m just tired of it.
I’m starting to get a little bit overwhelmed with stress about this semester and college applications and midterms and the crapload of homework I have, so here are my tips to stay focused despite feeling like the world is going to end.
OFFICE HOURS – If you’re not understanding material or you’re confused, go talk to your professors! Most of the time they love to chat and they can help you better understand the concepts one-on-one. I’ve made friends with many of my professors (yes I’m that geek) just from seeing them in their office so frequently and they really don’t mind. It actually gives them insight into you and shows them that you really care about doing well in their class.
WATER – Stay hydrated!!! This semester I’ve started carrying a water bottle around, and I swear I’m telling you my focus in class is soo much better. As a matter of fact, today I dropped my water bottle and it shattered (it was one of those fancy schmancy glass ones) into a million pieces. I wanted to cry as I picked up the shards of glass from the ground. My mama got it for me and it was my favorite:( But because of the lack of water, I couldn’t focus in my classes for the rest of day and it was a huge bummer.
DON’T OVERTHINK – Ha, I know that’s way easier said then done, but actively try to prevent yourself from going down that dangerous spiral of second-guessing all your life choices (I really need to take my own advice tbh). Take everything one step at a time and BREATHE. It really is going to be okay. Overwhelming yourself and trying to do everything at once, only causes disappointment when things don’t work out. If you try to do everything at once, nothing ends up getting done. So relax, chill, and take it easy.
WORK HARD – Be careful not to take it too easy! You still have to work hard! Don’t take sh*t for granted and try your best to keep procrastination at a minimum. Accept that procrastination will happen, so don’t be too hard yourself when you do procrastinate, but be careful not to become a slave to your laziness. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
TREAT YO SELF – When you finish an assignment or take an exam, find little ways to reward yourself or give yourself a pat on the back. One thing I always do after a big paper or exam is buying french fries as a treat. It could be anything though from watching an episode of your favorite show to hanging out with some friends. Whatever you do, make sure you recognize your accomplishments, and that will definitely alleviate some of your stress.
And try to have fun! Yes I know, wishful thinking.
It’s just that point in the semester where I’m exhausted, drained, and completely overwhelmed. I’m so tired. And today I crashed. My brain couldn’t handle it anymore. I had this weird foreboded and completely irrational feeling of failure. Perhaps because I’m not doing as well as hoped in two of my classes? I don’t know, I don’t think so because it was so massive and anxiety driven. I was just so tired of this goddamn election, the ridiculous amount of midterms I had, and the general state of the world. To make matters worse, I forgot my wristband at home that I always wear to fidget with and calm me down.
You know when you’re feeling upset and your brain just thinks of more things to make you feel even worse? I started doing that too. Existential questions stormed my mind, made me overthink everything. “Is this really want you wanna do?” Is this what you SHOULD do?” “You should be doing more.” “You’re a failure.”
It was just a mess of complete irrationality.
I don’t know. This felt different from my typical breakdowns throughout the semester, which I can usually fix by getting the work done that was stressing me. But today I felt hopeless. I felt trapped. It didn’t feel like there was a solution. I was stressed for no fixable reason.
When I first wrote this, I was gonna say that there’s no cherry on top. There’s no happy ending. But I’m better-ish now. I don’t feel as overwhelmed or as stressed out as before. I’m… okay. I’m okay.
In the moment though, I didn’t feel okay and I didn’t think I’d ever feel okay again. Funny how my brain convinced me of that.
Over the past couple weeks, while on the metro I have been reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I know it sounds strange, but I was horrified by how well the book was written. Hosseini’s vivid descriptions, alluring details, and deep lessons scared me. I was nauseous from how realistic the story was. Knowing that someone quite possibly may have actually experienced the events taking place made me sick. Hosseini writes in way that makes me realize the troubling realities of the social issues of our era. My body yearned to go back to the comfort of fantasy books like Harry Potter where I could delve into the story without a care in the world because in the back of mind, I understood that Hogwarts doesn’t really exist (unfortunately) and Harry will always save the day with the help of his friends. All this was going through my mind while tears spilled down my cheeks as Amir told his sad, sad story. Nonetheless, I could not put down the book. I read and read on the metro all the way to the Library of Congress and all the way back. Since I’m fasting, I even spent my lunch hour in a corner of the Great Hall reading even more of the book. Another thing that struck me on the metro was how real the character Amir is. He isn’t a superhero that saves the day, he isn’t perfect, and he faces the same internal struggles of an ordinary person. He didn’t always do the right thing or even think the right things, and yet he still recognized his problems. Over the course of the book/his life, he grew from a selfish child to selfless adult.
If today were an episode of Friends, it would either be called “The Time I Met Jill Biden” or “The Time Flat Stanley Was Decapitated.” I’m still not sure which title is better. Inside an alcove in the Young Readers Center (YRC), there is a life-size cardboard cutout of Flat Stanley. The families who visit the YRC enjoy posing for photos with Stanley. Unfortunately, today Stanley was knocked over and his cardboard head snapped clean from his body. Since then, Stanley has been hospitalized, but the odds are not looking good. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, Stanley, I hope you come back in one piece.
In other news, today the YRC hosted a conversation with Author Michael Grant, two female combat soldiers, and special guest Dr. Jill Biden. The event compared and contrasted real and imagined events during World War II with 21st century combat and military life. Michael Grant, a popular YA author discussed his new historical fiction book Front Lines, which reimagined a World War II where women are eligible for the draft. Among other things, I helped move Dr. Biden’s signed books from the green room to backstage, and during the book-signing portion of the event, I was in charge of writing people’s names down on post-it notes if they wished for their book to be personalized. Afterwards, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Biden, and honestly, she was so kind and genuine. Since she is an advocate for community colleges and is a professor at a northern Virginia community college, when I told her I was an intern from Montgomery College, she said that it’s awesome that I’m interning at the Library, and she said to enjoy it, and have a great summer. Meeting Dr. Biden will not be forgotten anytime soon, especially since the professional photographer at the event snapped a high quality photo that will probably be shared around by all my family and friends.
It’s okay. It’s fine. You’re fine. Butterflies? Ha. More like stampeding elephants. I enter the building labeled “Madison Library of Congress.” After going through security, I walk to a map and search for Young Readers Center. Young Readers Center Young Readers Center Young Readers Center, WHERE IS IT? The security guard asks me what I’m looking for and I respond and he says that it’s in the Jefferson Building. There’s more than one building?? “Yeah there are three actually.” Oops, I said that out loud.
He gave me directions to head into an underground tunnel that connects the three buildings together. Rights and lefts and keep going straight blur in my head, and I thank god for the signs and maps everywhere along the way.
Okay, now when you walk into the Center just stay calm. It’s okay. Once I entered the Center, all my nerves went away. Books upon books upon books of my childhood surrounded me and gave me a welcoming hug. The blue and green pastels danced on the walls. I spotted Frindle, one of my favorite books, and it brought a natural smile to my face—unlike the ones I was forcing all morning.
My supervisor at the YRC, Kahin, wanted me to just observe the daily activities before I’m given any responsibilities. After touring the center and going over protocol, I was told I can grab and book and just watch over what Monica does at the information desk. Everything seemed simple enough and I knew I would become accustomed to the procedures in due time. I also have begun to understand that situations like this are going to make me anxious. Until I’m comfortable in my surroundings, I am going to overthink every single thing I say and do, which sucks, but what can I do?
p.s. aghhhhh I’m interning at the Library of Congress what the heck????