Think back to high school. Or if you’re in high school, think back to yesterday:
So you’re sitting on your couch, minding your own business as you’re watching “America’s Got Talent” and just as they’re about to boo off a guy in clown shoes and suspenders jumping on one leg while singing “Yankee Doodle” in falsetto, your mom comes in and this transpires:
Mom: “Hey, favorite daughter/son/androgynous child, it’s Sunday.”
You: *tear your eyes from the screen reluctantly* “Yeah, so?”
Mom: “Well, have you finished all your homework?”
You: “… Yeah…”
Mom: “Okay.” *leaves*
At this moment, as your body stiffens and all the blood rushes back to your TV-fried brain, you remember the homework that was so cruelly assigned to you on Friday.
Well, guess what? It’s all due tomorrow. You procrastinated – again. So what do you do? You watch as your mom leaves the room and then you make like a clumsy ninja and fly over to your backpack, arms flailing, mind reeling, and you get out your crumpled packet of work from the bottom of your bag. You brush off the sandwich crumbs and pencil shavings and think “oh crap.” Time to pull yet another all-nighter.
This not uncommon occurence (I’m guilty of it, too) has many consequences, the most awful one being fatigue. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing you probably value your sleep – a lot. Me too. So all-nighters do not a happy camper make. Without a good night’s sleep, I am a mental trainwreck. And let me tell you, my mind has been a wreck since freshman year of high school.
When I lose this much precious sleep, it had better be for a good cause: I’m two steps away from curing cancer, I’m conducting revolutionary sleep experiments, I’m afraid of the dark, yadda yadda yadda… But no – it’s because of homework. Because I was raised by people who would practically whip me if I got less than an “A,” turning in homework is kind of a big deal. What does this drown me in?
That’s what it’s all about (now do the hokey pokey…). It’s what causes my hair to fall out, helps create the bags under my eyes, and what makes those pink elephants appear when I’m half-awake (curse you, Dumbo). But – is it really all that bad? I mean, really?
I know, I know, I just spent 300 words talking about how bad stress is, but like a story, a coin, or Harvey Dent, there are two sides to it. Yes, stress can weaken your immune system, give you headaches, strain your relationships, (the list goes on). However, it can also be my best friend. Okay, maybe more like a frenemy – whatever that means. Stress is like a 6 1/2 foot boxing coach with grit in his teeth and steel in his eyes. He pushes me forward, makes me work toward my goal, and frightens me out of failure by threatening me with failure. Whenever I want to give up and nod off and drool all over my papers, Stress smacks me in the face with an imagined “F” and scenarios that scare me into academic submission:
If I get an “F,” I’ll fail the class. If I fail the class, I’ll never graduate. Then no one will hire me except for the gas station and I’ll be stuck pumping gas for minimum wage for the rest of my life. I won’t be able to afford rent. I’ll sleep on the street, be beaten up and laughed at by passing gangbangers, develop internal bleeding, won’t be able to afford the hospital bill. And I’ll die a complete and utter failure with no one to cry at my funeral because I won’t even have a funeral… or a coffin…
You don’t need to tell me I have issues and don’t tell me your imagination has never gone that far before. Hey, it works.
So like everything else, stress is good in moderation – can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Sort of. Just don’t procrastinate.
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