Grumpily Apologetic

Finals week is difficult.

I know, revolutionary statement. But it is! For a plethora of reasons, none of which are muffled when you’re in a relationship.

Over the past year, I’ve learned something I didn’t know before about relationships: they involve two separate people.

Two separate people, taking finals, and attached at the hip.

Oh, yes, there’s been a lot of stress-fighting.

In the year we’ve been together, I’ve never been more shocked than when my Boyfriend, hugging my head to his torso (I was sitting), said plainly, “I love you, but you’re being so aggravating.”

Even now, it makes me laugh. I couldn’t help it! My stress levels live at a 7, plus 2 for finals, plus 4 for social situations (we were in the PACKED library) equal Too Damn Much for me.

We’re fine, if a little grumpily apologetic. And, after 7:30 tonight, we’re done with all written finals! (I have a speaking final on Friday.)

So here’s to being Aggravating–
You’ve been okay, Fall 2017…
But thank God you’re over.

-HH

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Better Tomorrow

I have not had a moment this Bad in months. Hell, I haven’t had a moment this Bad in over a year.

Being overwhelmed manifests itself in a lot of different ways when you live with the kind of anxiety I live with.

I’m taking a class that’s basically taking over my life this semester. It’s great in that I’m really enjoying the work that I’m doing. It’s unfortunate in that it’s causing me an unbelievable amount of stress.

I thought going to an event for my fraternity–or even for my historians society–would be the relief I needed from the never ending words and confusing structures and half-thoughts I’m not even psuedo-confident in. I thought jumping into something and enjoying it–something that didn’t have to do with JFK’s Assassination–was exactly what I needed.

I was Wrong.

Fighting with my Boyfriend before the event didn’t help. But I thought I could sit through it, regardless of how aggressively the fist-sized Cotton Ball of Frustration was trying to punch its way through my Throat.

I was very Wrong.

Suddenly I was 18-years-old again, spending an hour prepping myself to leave my dorm room for an event. I was swallowing words and tears and taking full gasps through my nose. I was fighting the tears as hard as I could, trying to contain the waterworks. But I was 30 minutes early for the Event; there’s no way I could stick it out for an hour and a half.

So even though I didn’t want people to think badly of me, I didn’t want people to see my breakdown even more. Without talking to my Boyfriend, or Anyone, I packed up and left.

My legs couldn’t move fast enough. It was like sprinting away from that football game I tried to go to Freshman year all over again. Everyone seemed perfectly fine, seemed completely in on this idea of what it’s like to be Normal and I was just pretending to function long enough to get to my Hiding Spot.

So I’m hiding now. I’m crying and I’m hiding. I’m overwhelmed and I’m angry and I don’t want to function anymore.

I will finish crying. I will work on German homework instead of staring at citations I don’t know how to do and documents I’m not sure I’ll actually use.

I think I’m going to get Cane’s for dinner.

I will forgive myself, and do better tomorrow.

-HH

A Good Year

Twas the night ‘fore Fall Semester
And all through the Dorms
Not a textbook was stirring
Not a syllabus, or Form

Except for in my apartment, where I’ve printed two syllabi and already marked due dates in my agenda. I’ve picked which notebooks and binders belong to which days and classes, and packed my backpack even though my first class isn’t until 11:30 tomorrow. You could say I’m a little excited.

The cool thing about wanting to be a teacher is that I want to be a teacher because I like school. I like the rhythm of the day, the way the school year is structured. I like going to class and engaging. Although I’m not the best at making friends in a classroom.

I’m hoping for a good year, and it’s already starting on a pretty great foot. I just got a job offer that I’m ecstatic to take, I’m taking a manageable amount of hours and I’m excited for all my classes, and I’m looking forward to seeing the people in my fraternity this year. I didn’t realize that I was excited to see them (I’m still harboring some bitterness about not getting the position I wanted) until I saw two of them by accident today, but I am.

This year will be good. I’m…95% sure of it.

-HH

Icosahelpme

My friend Cameron wrote about the girl she was in high school not too long ago, but I (as usual) was late to the game reading it, and only got to it just now. I really liked Cameron’s post. She talked about her edges being softened as she opened her heart to God. It made me feel good reading it.

There aren’t a lot of things that make me feel good, right now. There are moments, yeah, and days, even, where my edges don’t feel rough and my brain doesn’t feel like it’s going a thousand miles a minute. But I feel like I keep trying to climb my way out of a hole that I’m actually, accidentally, digging for myself, somehow.

So there’s that triangle of balance that’s not actually a triangle, right? Where the expectation is that you only have to balance Social Life, Grades, Sleep–but the reality is that you have to balance Family, Friends, Relationships, Grades, Money, Sleep, Health, General Ability to Feel like a Person. I wish life were as simple as a triangle.

It’s probably something more like an icosahedron.

I keep trying to find a thing that feels like it can create balance. Right now it feels like if one thing is wrong (and something always is) then I’m turned inside out, or sideways, or backwards, or upside down. Nothing feels small. One thing feels…colossal.

I remember this feeling from high school. This burned out, End of World feeling. I remember being stressed about my grades, my future, a boy, friends, family, my body, money. I remember thinking that One Day I was going to be not quite an adult yet, renting a house with like seven of my friends just off campus, going to class, kicking ass, and taking names.

I guess that’s why I need to quit daydreaming because One Day is Now, and it’s definitely Not That.

I’m not saying that Now is bad. I love my Boyfriend (so much, it’s kind of gross). I love my friends (they aren’t plentiful–but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality). I love my family (I’m going to be an aunt!). I love my classes (which sounds like a lie–but I really, genuinely do). But I still feel like I’m missing something.

It makes me wonder if Jesus is the answer, the way Cam talked about.

And I shit on my Boyfriend about his religion, a lot. So I’m sure when he reads this he’ll expect something harsh or rude or insincere.

Because frankly, religion makes me uncomfortable. The idea that an Omnipotent Being is Judging me is terrifying. Mostly because I’m already pretty busy judging myself. Likewise, I think the rules are dumb. I don’t think any God will love His children any less for not believing in him. What a narcissistic dick, amirite? But, further, I don’t think any God will love His children any less for loving someone of their sex, or for not identifying their Sex with their Gender, or for eating Meat on Fridays during Lent. I don’t think God gives two shits about whether or not you come up to me and talk to me about Him, I really don’t. Because you know what I think God cares about?

I think God cares about how you made me feel when you walked away. Or how you’ve made anyone feel ever.

I don’t think God cares about things we do that don’t actually hurt people. I think God’s got bigger fish to fry, if you will. Like perpetuating Love. Like perpetuating Happiness. Like perpetuating Change. I digress.

My God doesn’t really fit the mold of any religion I know. Every God I’ve heard of has these arbitrary rules. Every God has this Black and White way of looking at things: Did you follow all the rules? Heaven. Did you break any? Hell.

But if God made us, then doesn’t He know we’re not Black and White Creatures? Does one action really define a person?

I hope not. I am not a bad person, by any means. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always done good things, either.

But I don’t think stealing a rubber pencil from the library in elementary school means I can’t kick it with the Big Guy Upstairs. That’s just me, though.

-HH

Being Un-Abnormalized

I always have things I want to talk about–like my experiences with the Tangle Toy I just bought, or the fact that my boyfriend and I almost broke up on Saturday–and then I sit down to write, and something else takes over. So I want to talk about my philosophy class, and the way my professor invalidated and trivialized what I based a large portion of my value on last week.

So I’m taking this Education Philosophy course. It involves a lot of (really awful) dense readings. Last Tuesday my Professor started talking about a bifurcation on Davis’ genealogy–structuralism VS poststructuralism (it’s honestly not even worth explaining what that sentence means, but here’s a link to a description of the book if you’re interested).

She talked about the societal need to ‘normalize’  students. That we give a group of kids a test, and the average score in the room is deemed “normal,” the lower percentage of scores is deemed “at-risk,” and the higher percentage is deemed “advanced.” And then she basically shit on it (it being this classification) for ten minutes.

I wish I had a better way of saying that. Wish I could explain it in intricate, fluffy terms, but that’s what she did. She shit on the only thing that has ever made me feel worth anything my entire life: my intelligence.

I was classified as Gifted when I was eight. My sister was the Dancer, the Nice One, the Pretty One. And those things are all true of her. But I didn’t have those titles. I wasn’t nice. I didn’t dance. I’m not pretty. All I’ve ever had is my brain. So when I was told that my brain really was special, or different, or Worth Something–well, I latched on to it.

So I had a bit of a breakdown, after lecture. Because what she said, in a nut shell, told me that nothing about me was actually Different, or Special, or Worth Something.

I should clarify that I have never been the smartest person in a classroom. My best friend was Valedictorian and is a kind of smart that I can only hope to be. I spent every class for  six years aspiring to be her level of intelligent. So it’s not like my Professor walked into the room and completely crushed my soul.

It was more like she took this thing that I had as an Identifier for the past twelve years and set it on fire.

My sister is still the Nice One. The Pretty One. The Good Cook. The One who Works with Animals.

Now I’m not Gifted. I’m not Worth Something. There aren’t a lot of things I’ve ever wanted people to remember me as–if any, the only ones were Trustworthy, Loyal, Hardworking (oh man, my Hufflepuff is showing), and Intelligent.

So I’ve lost an Identifier. And I know that College is all about Finding Yourself–but this isn’t exactly what I imagined.

-HH

Failing and Flailing

I fell asleep thinking about writing this post and, as a result, had a really shitty dream. So I have to write it out now–when I smell like an Almond Joy (because of a coconut oil treatment to my hair) and I still haven’t picked out an outfit for my date with Boyfriend and am overall just stressed–or else it’s going to haunt me all day.

In tenth grade I failed my Chemistry final, but I got a C in the class. That was the closest to school-related failure I’ve ever reached.

This semester I received a 54 F in a class. I will have to retake it.

Here’s the thing. I can blame the Professor–because, well, he was awful. I can blame the material–because, well, it was difficult for me. But the fact of the matter is that I have to blame myself.

I went to class once a week, instead of the three times a week I should’ve been going. I didn’t read the chapters I should’ve read. I didn’t do the project worth 15% of my grade. I didn’t study for the final the way I should’ve. I dropped the ball this semester, and I couldn’t bring myself to care until I saw that big, fat F show up on my Final Grades Report.

Now I’m dealing with those consequences.

There are a lot of factors outside of school that affected my ability to do well this semester–and not just in the class I failed. Before this semester, my collegiate GPA was a 3.75; after this semester I will have a 3.2. Overall, I just did worse academically.

Frat life got in the way, big time. This is my first semester as an active Brother, meaning I let myself get wrapped up in events and sucked into late night dinners when I needed to be studying, doing homework, going to class. I didn’t bother to find a balance; I just prioritized one over the other.

I had a lot going on with my family, and a lot going on with N.A.U.L. I lost a lot of sleep. I didn’t let myself develop good study habits. I prioritized other people’s happiness over my own well-being–which, normally, is how I roll. But I guess I’m learning that I have to find a balance there, too.

Also, my anxiety has never been worse. There were days I couldn’t leave my room without feeling on the verge of crying because someone looked at me. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until it started to calm down and I realized I had been missing out on a lot of stuff-academically and socially. I’ve been thinking about going to therapy to deal with my anxiety. I just don’t know how to have that conversation with my mother.

Internal and external conflicts manifested itself into a lot of nights filled with “I have to take care of me” instead of “I need to finish this assignment.” I’m discovering it’s about balance. I had forgotten about that balance–had forgotten what it’s like to need it, because it’s been so long since I had socialization and friendship and my mental health to prioritize.

I’m figuring it out. Next semester will be better, and I’ve got a month to figure it out before it has to be.

-HH

Phase 10: 4 Sets of Finals and 1 Week-Long Panic

I knew I was going to write today–and, around 6 o’clock this evening, I thought I knew what I was going to write about.

I wanted to talk about dating someone who’s your polar opposite. About finding balance, if you can, or if you’re doomed. About when is too early to start talking about things if you know they’re going to be problematic later?

And then the rest of my night happened. And now I want to talk about dating while having anxiety. Actually–I kind of just want to talk about existing with anxiety.

The thing about anxiety is that once one thing sends you into a tizzy–once those cyclic, obsessive, negative thoughts start–it’s really hard to get out of it. Which is to say everything triggers those thoughts.

Last time I was in a relationship while having anxiety, I wasn’t fully immersed in it yet. I didn’t know what was going on, just that sometimes I needed to cry and hyperventilate and pick at my skin because I felt like I was going to crawl out of it anyway. I’ve spent the past year being single and discovering all of my anxiety on my own.

“My own” being operative words here. See, this semester I have people. I have more people than I know what to do with. People who snapchat me, who ask me to lunch, who invite me over, or to hangout, who call me, who walk me back to my dorm, who ask me (before they ask anyone else) to study with them. I didn’t have people before. I had me, my anxiety, Cameron, and my Roommate. And the only person who actually dealt with my anxiety was my anxiety.

I thought that having people would make me feel amazing, wanted, assured. And it does, to an extent.

But I’m discovering recently that there is such a thing as having Too Many People. Especially when you’re just getting into a relationship.

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why ‘normal’ people date people like me. Why they find joy in being with someone who second guesses everything about the relationship, who misreads (and over analyzes) every conversation or glance, who goes down one road assuming they’re being followed–when, really, it turns out you’re not even in the same neighborhood. It’s exhausting, I’d imagine. I’m exhausting.

So I’m overwhelmed a lot, recently, because I’m trying to figure out what’s worth bringing up, what’s not crazy to analyze or question. It doesn’t help that my Boyfriend and I got together two weeks before Finals.

I will (probably) receive my first ever F in a class this semester. I’ve been secretly harboring a lot of feelings over it: shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, disappointment, and anxiety.

On top of all that, because it was Finals Week, all my People wanted to study with me, or take lunch breaks to eat with me. And I love my People. I do. But even Not-Exhausting People get Exhausting when you stress the way I stress while having anxiety the way I have anxiety.

My Boyfriend doesn’t get my anxiety in that he doesn’t personally understand it. He listens, and does what I ask him to in order to help me calm down. He’s perspicacious, and attentive–he knows I’m tired before I know I’m tired, knows I’m hungry before I voice it, knows when I’m asleep or just pretending, knows why I’m giggling at nothing. He’s known since I arrived at his apartment that my anxiety levels were high.

“If you don’t want to go, tell me now,” he said as he pulled on a hoodie. We were going to play a card game at a friend’s. I knew everyone that would be there, but I was already dreading walking into the house. He’s the type that can go all night, though. He loves people. And we’ve both been so stressed with Finals. I wanted him to have fun.

So we went. And I did have fun! We played Phase 10, and I lost (terribly) but it was okay.

My Big texted (and Snapchatted) me while I was there. She kept asking if I was okay (because of my F) and how I was feeling (because I was socializing) and what was I going to do about the fraternity camping trip this weekend and she loved me and was I sure I was okay? And I felt bombarded. Too cared for. I thought I wanted to be coddled, but I really wanted to be left alone.

Then we arrived back at his apartment, and as I started doing a coconut oil treatment in my hair, my Boyfriend offered Taco Bell. We bickered as we discussed what I wanted.

“You’re really complicated,” he grumbled as he sat down. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

And, no, they hadn’t. But I have. Plenty of times.

I worry that my complicated will be too much. That he thinks the anxiety is endearing now, but will get sick of it soon. That he can leave the anxiety and me without thought–which, he can. It’s just frustrating because I can’t.

I don’t like being anxious like this. I wish I could stop apologizing every time I think I’ve done something wrong. I wish I stopped thinking everything I did was bothersome. I wish I didn’t feel like the world is ending because of an F. I wish I wasn’t thinking about skipping out on something I have been buzzing for because the thought of three days of socializing with no breaks is absolutely terrifying.

I wish I wasn’t like this.

I wish I knew what I wanted. From my Big I wanted Space. From my Mom I wanted Space. From my Friends I wanted Space. From my Boyfriend I wanted to be reassured. There is no consistency.

No method to the madness.

But Finals Week is over. I just took a hot shower. I don’t have to decide to go camping until noon tomorrow, and I had nachos for dinner.

I’m hiding in the back room while he watches a movie with friends. The bed is warm, and the outside is cold. It’s almost Christmas.

There is still good. I still have good left.

-HH