Wednesday, May 30, 2007


This afternoon I was on the phone with my best friend (and younger brother) discussing his plans for the upcoming weeks. When I called he was asleep. At three in the afternoon, mind you, he was dead asleep. He proceeded to tell me how he had been up much of the previous night with a friend of his playing Guitar Hero and watching scary movies. When our call ended I found myself jealous. Not of Guitar Hero or the scary movies, just of the carefree attitude he can have at his age and the wide open summer he has ahead of him. How would it be?

As I've thought over the last week or two about my own summer plans, I have felt something I can explain only as smothered. I feel smothered.

Last fall when I began the academic year I had accepted leadership of the College Democrats, was beginning another term on the ASISU Senate, was carrying a full class load, and two jobs, one of which was the daunting Stallings Collection. I resigned from the College Democrats, eventually resigned from the Senate after fighting a valid (and uphill) fight, and remained dedicated to my school work and the Stallings Collection. Looking back, that first month of fall semester I felt completely smothered.

In comparison to how I feel now, I would take that first month of fall semester hands down.

The weird thing is, in comparison to my responsibilities then, what I have on my plate now in no way compares. What I've come to conclude from this is that it isn't necessarily the time commitment that wears us down with our obligations, it is the personal nature of those obligations. If they are highly personal to us they take far more energy.

This summer I am trying to finish up two remaining requirements for my Bachelor of Arts in History. The classes themselves aren't difficult, granted I admit Latin American History is not my thing, but summer school feels like an imposition.

It bothers me that these classes and those I was taking the last part of the spring semester felt like an imposition. What else should I be doing with my life if not going to school? It is not senioritis. In the back of my mind I still love school just as much as I did that second or third day of kindergarten when I figured out what it was all about. And I know that this is an opportunity many don't get and I am incredibly thankful. It's just not been the best year for me academically.

This summer I am supposed to be working feverishly on the Stallings Collection. And I am. It's just slow going. Preserving history is nothing if not slow going.

Part of why I am feeling smothered has a lot to do with the people I surround myself with. This is absolutely not a bad thing. I'm just not very good at accepting the help of others, much less asking for it. The people around me are wonderfully supportive people who I know care for me, it's just difficult when you're a highly independent young person who isn't used to that sort of thing.

Ultimately this is where the smothered feeling has manifest itself.

A dear friend of mine said to me today that "somebody has got to mind the store," meaning somebody has to be watching over each of us to make sure we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. Very true. I guess I need to learn to accept that.

The overwhelming smothered feeling I've been grappling with the past few weeks doesn't seem to be easing, but I think in addressing it and recognizing its presence I can also learn to recognize the wonderful people (and outstanding influences) I have in my life.

Now if I could just recognize the necessary evil that is summer school...


Kent said...

When I was a graduate student finishing up my thesis I felt this way--completely overwhelmed. I didn't have the added pressures you do (I wasn't married, no kids, no real job, hadn't yet started to pay off those dreaded student loans), but I had friends around me that were pushing me to succeed. It felt at times that them pushing me was too much, but looking back I knwo they only wanted me to finish. You'll look back at this and think whoa, what a time and I can't believe my friends were so wonderful. Trust me.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thanks, Kent. I'm feeling a little less smothered today, I think I was overwhelemed yesterday and all of this came to a head. Maybe I need to play a little chess and relax, huh?