Why I Am a Ball of Stress...And Why It's Okay
How to Destress (Hint: Find and Pet Dogs on Locust)
Fun fact: I got a mouth guard last year because I constantly clenched my teeth in my sleep. Because of stress.
I go back and forth on it—it's such a Penn thing to complain and throw around your stress and compete with other people's stress. After all, Penn is hard. Aren't we all stressed? Everyone is doing hard work. Everyone is under an immense amount of pressure. Why does it matter that I'm also stressed out, if really what I'm experiencing is just shared by everyone? My stress doesn't make me different or special—it just makes me another Penn student, also feeling a little overwhelmed.
But then, of course, that's not quite fair. Just because everyone feels what I'm feeling, to varying degrees, doesn't delegitimize my experiences. So what if everyone else is stressed? Their stress has no impact on my own levels of anxiety, and my levels of anxiety are pretty damn high right now.
But in a way, this shared stress is kind of comforting. At least we all have something to keep us together: we can all completely empathize with each other. These feelings of dread don't make me special—they make me like everyone else at this school. They give me a way to relate to everyone, because we're all dealing with the same kinds of pressure. So in a way, there's a nice duality to it all. My stress isn't devalued by everyone else's stress, because everyone's individual feelings are legitimate. However, it also gives us all a commonality, a shared understanding that sometimes this school and this work gets to be a little too much.
I wish I had a list of helpful tips to calm down a bit. To be honest, I'd appreciate them myself. My best advice? Take some deep breaths, and make time for yourself. Oh, and also stop to pet the dogs you come across on Locust. Helps every time.