The weight of a busy schedule

This topic is so mundane, I don’t even know why I’m compelled to write a post about it.

Part of me thinks this is something to blog about because it is the current state that I’m feeling. When we write about the experiences we feel at the moment, our words are more real, our descriptions more alive, the theme of our stories penetrate deeper. As the cognizant person that I am, I recognize the very moment when I’m filled with emotions, both the lows, the highs, and the neutral states. A lot of times, the two extremes are what is talked about, not the in between.

Which is why I precisely want to capture the in between.

The in-between, the mundane, the logistics of life, the minutiae– these are the things that remain unnoticed, the backdrop that takes us from one major life event to another. We talk about the business of our lives to rant and to rave, as a form of social currency or as a way to de-stress. We rarely ponder the weight of our busy schedules, physically, mentally and emotionally, and give it even less attention that it deserves in writing.

Today, a coworker who started to take night classes asked me, “How do you do it, go to class twice a week? I’m already dead after work.”

I replied, I just have to do it. I’m used to it.

This is true. I realize my mind is still processing non-stop from morning to late night, even on days when I don’t have class. I’ve gotten used to the fact that my brain has to function hours past work hours.

Honestly, I want to claim back my time. I want to take walks without thinking about the homework I have to do, or feel guilty for every minute I’m not spending reading a required textbook. I hop on the bus, pull out my book, pack it back when I hop off, go to work, go to class, open my laptop and take notes, then take the bus home but stop by Starbucks first to finish up some more readings. This is my life. It sounds complicated and exhausting, but this is actually the simplest depiction of it, reduced to the basics.

I now understand the irony of being so tired but having your mind continue being alert. It’s the worst combination.

I walk down the streets of Chicago with my backpack that contains laptops, books, journals and sometimes gym clothes. I walk block after block, organizing myself enough to finish important school work or work to take home, lifting my bag, readjusting the weight of my work and the requirements of life contained in the small backpack.

Then, I whisper to myself, sometimes once, sometimes multiple times, “Hard work will pay off. There will be a place in this world for my dreams.”

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Emotional states

I woke up this morning with a lot of energy. Maybe it was the potency of sangria from a friend’s birthday party last night that was still coursing through me. But I know it wasn’t hangover: what I felt was a lightness, the kind of uplifting joy one has when waking up and realizing it’s the weekend.

Instead of going back to sleep, I decided to start the day. I took a quick shower, got dressed and headed to downtown to get some homework done. When I got to downtown, however, I did not want to study. Visions of lounging around sipping coffee with a full breakfast or perhaps strutting around town to look at the latest styles, were the images running in my mind.

And I realized what a quick change of mood marked by Saturday morning. In less than two hours, I went from possessing high motivation to being indifferent toward the same thing.

It occurred to me that I may be feeling lonely. The sun was out earlier, but now it’s gone. Sometimes it’s really hard to know if you’re feeling lonely. It doesn’t really occur to me when I am feeling the emotion of loneliness, because I almost never do. I think my emotion state ranges from neutral to bliss, which includes everything in between, but others feel deep sadness, loneliness and grief far below neutral. I do get sad, such as when things don’t go as planned or I don’t get what I want, but this occurs in short bursts that they are almost unnoticeable among the emotions I’ve felt in a given period. I guess I count emotional states rather than emotions per se.

So I thought about possibly studying with a friend, a classmate, or wishing that my sister were with me so we could study together. But I know that wouldn’t be a perfect solution either because I know that while I would be less lonely, I would also be distracted instead of having the time and space to focus on my own.

What I need today really, is happiness and solitude. Happiness as wave on which to ride in order to motivate me to the next homework or task I need to do, and solitude to help me focus. I know these two states are not mutually exclusive, but they are not necessarily tied together, either. Perhaps what I need is an environment where people around me are in the same boat: studying alone, much like in college. So the root of this all, maybe, is that I miss campus life. Perhaps I miss youth as well, or that precarious ground on which we teeter and totter toward adulthood.

But I have all of those. I’m in school getting my master’s. I’m at the start of my late twenties and quite young. I’m still in that precious time of fully transforming into a full-blown adult. Things are definitely in my favor. Maybe I just need inspiration. I probably just need to do what I like doing, to get a sense of myself again, instead of merely working and studying at all times everyday in the week. Maybe I just need to sit myself and just do it. It’s not easy though.

I realize that in order to keep myself motivated I need to dig the values inside me: discipline, hard work, integrity, faith in merit and reward. These are the times when I truly believe that values are not handed easily nor is it available for the taking externally. Values really the traits we develop when we choose power over pain, turning negative forces into positivity and stand our ground because we have them as foundation. And most of the time, these are developed on our own, when we’re alone.