Today at lunch something I've been quietly feeling for a few days got to the point where I couldn't really ignore it.
The new semester is really difficult. It's been a little crushing.
See, I was supposed to go get lunch with Henry. And when he came out the door of Houston to meet me we kind of just looked at each other for a moment.
"Hello." His voice was gritty and tired. Both of us were behind work. Both of us were wondering whether we'd have time to socialize or run or even get enough sleep over the rest of the week. We ate our food and then Henry left to take a nap and I went back to my room to work. We talked a little, but not actually all that much. Neither of us had the energy.
In fact, I haven't talked to a soul this semester who's having a good go of it. Even friends at other schools are struggling right now. So what I don't understand is why.
I mean, my stressor is mock—it's not even my classes. I'm stressed and tired and sad because I'm on day 10 of intense tournament prep that is at least 5 hours a day of work, and the stress and fear of underperforming when I can't afford to. Hello, imposter syndrome. And last I checked, my friends are not doing mock.
No, they're dealing with any combination of classes that are too hard, too large a course load, friends that are being frustrating to deal with, pressure to square away summer plans—for everyone, it's something.
Maybe we came back and we were all a little complacent from break, so this is a normal amount of stuff to be dealing with and we're just behind the ball? Perhaps professors accelerate their classes into heavy work faster in the spring? I'm just not sure if there's any concrete reason this is happening. And so I wonder if there's something to the season, the weather and the mood we're all soaking up, that makes it be this way. Or maybe some combination of all of it.
Regardless, I'm really unsure how to frame this time right now. My parents always frame college like the best years of their life, a sentiment I think it's pretty common to hear. That applies a lot of pressure to have fun all the time. So when the beginning of the year was hard, when this semester feels tiring and sad and sometimes a little lonely, my initial reaction is to feel like I'm wasting it.
Because honestly, I got really good at being tired and sad and overwhelmed last year, stuck at home during covid and college stress. I think I'm more or less in a place when normally, I feel comfortable weathering the storm. It's perhaps my best quality. But that doesn't work here because I think I'm supposed to having fun.
My freshman year of highschool didn't start all that quickly, though. I made my close friends at LHS as a junior and even as senior. And I look back at high school as being a win, even if so much of it was cut short. Basically, it's ok when things are bad for a while. It's a fundamentally mixed bad no matter where you are.
So I suppose I have to wait a while for life to improve. Actually, I think we all do right now. And my real hope is that just because we're all fighting imposter syndrome and exhaustion and anxiety doesn't mean we end up retreating inwards and lose contact. My only real sadness of this period, in hindsight, would be if it made us less connected—and that's an effect that persists past when it gets better.