Dude, take a chill pill.

Sometimes I have to fight the urge to tell people to “take a chill pill” because apparently the cool kids don’t say that anymore. Maybe we should bring that phrase back.

If there was such a thing as a chill pill, I would’ve needed quite a hefty supply of them from about Kindergarten to last year. I can’t ever figure out if I’m just really good at playing off my stress or if it’s so apparent that it’s just become a part of me, but people tend to be rather shocked when I tell them about how stressed I get over everything. Last year I cried way more than what is healthy, and that’s not even factoring in my homesick cries. I have this need to feel busy and productive all day every day and it drives me into the ground. I’m not sure if it’s from stress or just my body taking on a new challenge, but I’ve had a couple panic attacks the past few months, and I’ve basically taken it upon myself to keep that from happening again.

The sad thing is I know way too many people who are the exact same way. We have this awful mindset that if we are not doing something, we are wasting our precious time. When we jam pack our schedules so that we are doing something all day every day, our mental health suffers. When we’re busy we swear we’ll take more time to relax, and when we’re relaxing we feel guilty because there’s probably 5,000 things that need to get done.

(side note: if you ask how I’m doing and I say I have less than a trillion things that need to get done, that means I’m probably having a pretty relaxed week)

I was not happy last year. I stayed up until midnight every night doing homework and then did more homework on the weekends and was disappointed in myself if I didn’t make it to the rec every day and the list goes on and on. I stayed in my room most of the time and didn’t want to go out with friends unless the plans had been in place for weeks. My campus ministry meetings started to feel like a chore because they seemingly took time away from school. I was not happy. Now I am.

I’ve come to the realization that although grades are very important, they are not everything. I’ve realized that I should run in order to relieve my stress and stay healthy rather than because I feel like I need to. I am present at my church-related events¬†because they supplement me in a way that nothing else possibly can. My Nana gave me a calendar with an uplifting quote on every day, and I take a few minutes every morning to let it sink in. I spend a little more time with friends and make actual plans for the weekend because a social life is crucial to your well-being. Believe it or not, stressing over a test does not make the test go away; it only makes you stressed and study inefficiently and basically hate everything. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I have been trying so hard to work better, not necessarily harder. Working better allows you to take time to enjoy the change of seasons instead of stressing over catching your bus. Working better allows you to spend time doing things you enjoy with good people. It keeps your grades up without putting your confidence and health and joy down the drain.

I saw a quote somewhere that says, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” I don’t want my major and job to be everything, so these are small steps I’ve taken to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want to be intelligent (I mean, who doesn’t?), but I want to be kinder. The biggest thing that keeps me from being kind is my stress and the way I have handled it in the past, and I’m not proud of that.

Although I probably have more stress with my classes this year than last, I am happier. I am working on being better and kinder and more loving. I’m trying to live for the moment and appreciate this part of my life. It’s a good feeling.

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