Category: anxiety

Stress is the Cheapest Contour a College Student Can Buy

I checked off the white and black grid boxes, before sliding the paper into the metal rectangular crate. Each day, I stood in the a la carte line, ordering the same thing. Weekday to weekday, the waxy grease paper stained my hands with the anxieties of college.

“That’s all you’re going to eat.”

“There’s no need to be stressed.”

“How are you?” “I’m doing fine, thank you.”

On pilot mode, I steered myself from one side of the campus with my eyes blurring past the trees and rain-slicked pavement. The metal door handle, the white staircase brick walls, the heat lamp above the pizza, the scuffed marks on my black boots, and the forced conversations. I dove headfirst into feeling like I had time for nothing at all. I swam inside the hours connecting two a.m. and seven a.m. which I calculated how much time I had left to write a paper. A paper whose words came out chalky in my mouth, and tasted like plaque build-up.

Pennsylvania’s fall felt like a heat lamp, whose ambiance left the skin lukewarm. By noon, I wore a light jacket. By three p.m., I clutched the jacket close to my abdomen and power-walked to the next building. By six p.m., my coat felt bulky against my tote bag, but at least the wind only whipped my face.

Senior year in college equals the amount of stress in an entire year crammed into a day. Perpetual tumbling, uneasy somersaulting, and haphazard sprints; I challenge myself in staying with the idea in mind I am graduating.

Yet, I feel as though someone has dropped me in the middle of the forest. They have left me with enough time to peel the blindfold away and recall faintly how the bumps in the road are familiar.

I learned, hadn’t I? My high school diploma in my back pocket, I had made it to college halfway across from where my credits began. The transcript states I started at community college and worked full-time. The transcript states that I transferred to well-to-do liberal art college. The grades fluctuated with the times. The resume changed as I navigated inside my anxieties about the future.

“What are you going to do after college?”

“I just hope you find someone nice.”

A friend, a coworker, my family, and my conscious all stood on my shoulders – as if God came down with a pen and paper wanting to know how much I wasted time.

It’s Thursday, the desk I sit in during Travel Writing has a gap between the floor under one peg. I awkwardly rock back and forth, creating offbeat counts when I press my pen to paper.

Today, I am living with myself and dismantling the fictitious dream I began at twelve.

9:12 pm. The dentist told me to stay away from sweets, and I’m sitting here chowing down on an oreo candy bar weighing my life options, in a dim lit room.

 

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Worry-stitched sleeping

I never sleep before midnight anymore.

Find me, curled in a C shape –

balled in a worry I won’t undo

until morning.

A morning where half the sky

slices the baby blue curtains

away from night’s navy nightgown.

If I weighed my worries in a grocer’s scale,

the store might overcharge me

for pounds I had last time.

My burdens fit me elegantly,

a form fitting piece –

I wear for any occasion.

Please, if you see me sleep,

don’t fear the strings

tightening and loosening.

These mere things orchestrate

my dreams.

 

 

Ode to writing

I wrote a thousand different poems.

Each one, pressed like flowers and leaves

in dictionaries, my parents told me to read.

Some days, I think there aren’t enough words

in me. I used to chew on the margins of my

grade school notebooks, so when I talked- a sound

came out in the classroom. I wrote a song for a

girl whose hands are as warm as the steam

against my face, when I’ve opened the pot’s lid.

For this sensation, I remember the places and

people who’ve made me feel warm. My hands

are cold, with my self-deprivation forming

rings around my fingers. I wrote a letter to

people I’ve never met because I would have

liked to know them. Their words seep into the

graveyard’s grass, and shower a mist in a

mausoleum of urns. Somewhere, I learned

that if I think my words are important, I can

never say them directly face to face. I wrote

a paragraph or two for my parents on how

my childhood left me with an unrealistic

perspective that my younger self was the

only self I could be proud of. I wrote a

lullaby for my aches and groans, when I

held my arms tightly across my chest in the

night. Silent decays of belief and hope are

mine to keep. I wrote a song for a man I

knew who would never love me, and now

I think of how I don’t want him to. I wrote a

song for sex, afraid that when it happens, I

won’t like┬áit at all. I wrote a song for rain, add-

ing an extra refrain for the days it never stops.

I wrote a limerick for myself, because the day

laughing gives way to sickness of a tearful mind –

I’ll read it again.

A letter with no return address

It’s the things that I remember at midnight that will kill me.

I hope I forget the curve of your under eye,

When you’ve barely slept.

I hope I don’t turn over in the night;

Dreaming, how I heard your voice

Pulling wire between my ears,

Tuning over and over.

I hope I crawl inside that cardboard box

At the back of your mind so well,

And collect the lacework of spiders,

Mixed in with the dust.

I hope I carry my heart to the grave,

And never try letting her attach herself to people like stickers which peel off-

Eventually, turning into faded stamps

Which never grace letters.

I hope I remember not to pack a part of me

In your suitcase,

Pushed under the bed,

With shiny new locks.

I hope I pick myself up like a wooden doll,

Arms held up by string,

Succumbing to God’s puppetry,

How I step step step across the floor,

With nothing but a wandering eye,

Which falls on the grass,

Where the shade never casts the silhouette of a dandelion.

I hope you forget me.

 

 

Barcodes for women

Sitting with men, you pull your knees in a little tighter under the bench. Compact and not obstructive, you become someone’s leftover suitcase; on the bus stop, bench, and conference room.

You do this with your eyes. If you keep the eyes down, fixated on the ground, the pen, the glass of water, or the corner of the screen; this interaction won’t bother you.

Hands in your lap; playing with an invisible string, finding your pressure points, and tracing the lines of your palm; you sit with a man. Please don’t let him say anything about your red dress, your “boy-hair cut,” or un-found smile.

Softly pulling at the skin around your knuckles, you ask a man where you should place yourself.

“Here – on the low shelf?”

“Eye-level for an accessible scan?”

 

 

 

 

´╗┐Because wishing makes the room feel crowded

In another life,
Transcending past glazed sunsets,
And frosted night skies,
I hope I remember what now feels like.

I hope I never forget
The creases of my mouth,
And the casual hand hiding a smile
Nor the placement of my hands
Out of sight
and neatly in my lap.

In another life,
I hope it’s beauty that I remember
When looking for the faces of people in the past.
This beauty which cradles faces to weather the storm,
And this beauty where compassion overflows.

I hope time buries itself in the ground,
And all who walk here years later –
Know that this feeling of contentment existed.
Trial by default,
I harvest my doubts
And reap them alongside the fresh seeds of my future.
I plant these tiny memories in places,
Where I hope to come back
And live them once more.

In another life,
I hope that what happens here
Blooms under rocks
Bursts bombastically out of tree trunks
And says that my compassion is built
On nothing less than hope.

A thumbtack on a map

We are exploring. We are here after the clouds departed to reveal sunrise. We are sunken head deep into REM, because pinkish blurs wisping across the sky mean nothing now. We are into lying on our sides – recalling the ambient sound of an oscillating fan. We are exploring internal hardship as it sighs into the afternoons and sighs again into the evenings.

Today, I stared at the grooves of my cellphone case – wondering if I should call you. I thought just maybe this time I would have something to say. Outside of the scrapbook wavy cutouts, I still saw us frozen in time. Although, I knew we had changed – I feared my changez wouldn’t be ready for you to see. Today, I curled up and counted my blessings in order not to feel sad. Today, I recited this list as if my worries would learn how to evaporate.

If I’m ready, I would like to know where ambition goes when sadness intensifies. If I’m ready, then maybe tomorrow is worth starting over at 3pm on a Monday. If I’m ready, let the first step be not falling into a place where I’m not good enough.

We are. We are. We are trying to be okay. Okay with where we are right now, and not dismayed we’re not where we had hoped to be. We are. We are. We are here.