My stress countdown

I’m feeling stressed. You know that kind of stressed where you feel too paralyzed to do much else? I’m that right now.

A few minutes ago I walked into my school’s library to read Ethics by Spinoza for class. It’s part of the source of my stress, but it’s definitely not the whole cause.  I couldn’t understand a word of it without rereading the same sentence twenty times. Spinoza is either crazy or a genius. He talks about God and life in mathematical formulas. I’m not a math person so he reads to me like Crazy. I don’t like reading Spinoza, I don’t get Spinoza, but I felt particularly stuck today.

So I decided–maybe I need to take a break from thinking about school. Maybe I could go look through my friends’ blog posts, like some, comment on some. I opened a blog up and started reading. I thought the writing was good, that it’s important. But as easy as pressing that “like” button was, commenting suddenly became a difficult thing. I thought of making a small joke and quick praise, like a “good read!” or something, but that all sounded insincere. I felt her post warranted a longer, more thoughtful response. But I couldn’t put anything forth. I didn’t believe any of the words I could potentially write down. My fingers did an awkward hover above the keys, the kind of awkward hover when you’re not sure if you want to or are allowed to hug a person or not. And then my fingers retracted. I was having writer’s block over a freaking online comment. Then I knew I had a problem.

So here I am, wondering if the solution has to do with release. Maybe I’ll feel better if I just write out my stress. Maybe I’ll feel good if it’s just “out of my system,” as they say, and count down from ten. I don’t know about writing them to anyone in particular because I feel burdened by the task to explain context. So writing in this fresh blog which no one reads (yet?) seemed to be a good answer.

Here are the causes of my stress in a countdown list:

10. I had a dream about an old friend and it made me feel guilty.

9. I regret saying bad things about that old friend to people because it paints a skewed picture of her.

8. I tell my therapist about her sometimes and I make sure to emphasize that she’s an “ex”-friend, which must make me look like a bitch who relishes in the idea that I could break up with someone–a friend even–and enjoy how it hurt them.

7. I suspect my therapist finds my weekly stories boring and that she doesn’t think I have a point in seeing her anymore.

6. Perhaps I don’t have a point in seeing her anymore. I don’t think I’m depressed anymore and my anxiety is becoming manageable. I’m becoming one of those girls who just want an excuse to talk about herself all while using her parents’ money to fund her narcissism. This is an issue that my old friend once talked to me about, how it’s a general problem that rich girls take up the time of good therapists because they can afford to, whereas the people with the real problems don’t have that same privilege.

5. Today in class, I shared a video that I edited for my friend’s and my YouTube channel. The professor asked me where the video was shot. I said it was my house. He said that it was a really nice house. I felt guilty for saying it was mine when I don’t even pay for it.

4. I told my friend this past week about how I feel uncomfortable sometimes when people compliment my house because I didn’t do anything to make it nice or even make it mine. I then felt like I was ranting about a first world problem. I must look like an ungrateful girl who complains about having the misfortune of hard-working, fortunate parents.

3. That same friend is currently upset because of something my other friend said. They’re both sad and angry and hurt. I keep trying to tell them both to please just talk it out. I want them to realize that they would probably understand each other better than they think. But then I wonder if it’s not my place. Maybe I’m trying to do too much here. Do I really trust myself to mediate?

2. I don’t trust myself at all. Today in class, a student writer came in to talk about getting published, how it was really all about pushing yourself and making connections. Our professor even helped her originally get published because a story she wrote for a past assignment was just that good. He passed on her story to a New York Times editor. Her impressing the professor launched her writing career. Maybe she wanted to show us that it was easier than we thought, that the publishing world is more accessible than we imagine. But I was just horrified. I don’t believe that I can share that same kind of fate. I don’t believe I have what it takes to get published.

1. I regret that I admitted this to the class in a way. I regret that when my professor asked each student to say whether they were serious or not about writing, I said, “Maybe.” I said, “I’m still considering being a housewife instead.” I said it as a joke, but there’s some truth to it, in that I don’t think I could deal with public life. Just thinking about it–seeing myself at reading events, trying to “network,” seeing myself with an agent, trying to meet deadlines, to fulfill the expectations of others–it brought me nearly to tears. I don’t believe I’m capable of any of these things. I don’t trust myself with people and words. But I regret partially admitting this in class, because maybe now that means my professor won’t think I’m worth connecting to the New York Times, that I won’t value it, that I won’t be serious about it. Would I?

0. I think sometimes I miss my old friend because she was one of the few people who would tell me she believed that my writing was good. And because most other times she was so harsh with me, the one time she told me I was right made me think it must be true.


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