Finals, Stress, and Support

The end of the year is always hard. The couple of weeks leading up to finals week is full of projects, presentations and papers, and there is really nothing we can do about it besides work long hours and drink lots of coffee.

Personally, many of my hours in these past couple of weeks have been spent in the library or in my school’s newsroom, pushing through paper after paper just to keep myself sane.

School has been hard, and it seems like the general trend amongst students is the “grin and bear it” technique. So, that’s what I tried to do. I kept my head down and tried not to complain too much about the mountains of work that kept me awake at night or the number of papers I had to do.

After all, everyone is busy. I am no different, so why should I complain?

That was until this past Sunday. I was in a presentation for one of the groups I am involved in on campus, and the presentation lasted four hours. I knew that this presentation was coming and I knew how long it was, so I planned my work around it.

During the meeting, all I was thinking about was what I had to do that night. I tried to be present, and at times I was, but the projects and papers and presentations kept running through my head.

I tore out of the meeting and ran to my car. I sped down the road, eager to get back to my room and get to work.

I got to where I needed to go, but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to get out and get to work. I broke down.

I started to cry heaving, heavy sobs that racked my body from top to bottom. The papers and presentations and projects ran together in a cacophony of words and deadlines in my head, over and over until it was just too much.

Turns out grinning and bearing it isn’t exactly my forte.

 I felt embarrassed at my sobbing outburst and the stress became too much. I simply could not take it anymore.

So I called my parents.

As college students, we are encouraged to be as independent as possible. And we do a good job of it. We make choices everyday, like getting up and going to class or going out on weekends, that our parents may or may not disagree with.

We are supposed to relish our independence. It is what separates us from children. We are big, bad adults on our way to conquer the world. Who needs mom and dad?

Well, at that point in time, I did.

The second my mother answered the phone she new something was wrong. So, as I was sitting in my car, I told her everything that I had been holding in over the past three weeks. I told her about the stress and anxiety and the projects and the presentations. I told her that I wanted to come home and sleep in my own bed and hug my dog.

I broke down.

Here’s the thing about breaking down. It allows you to build something back up again that might be even better than the original. Something stronger and more beautiful will soon stand in the place of something that was broken.

Sometimes you just need to have emotions; you just need to cry. And that is totally okay. It is unhealthy to grin and bear it for too long. It makes you sick and sad and stressed.

I broke down last week, but that does not make me weak. It does not mean that I cannot handle independence. It does not mean that I should move back home. It just means that I am human and sometimes I can’t handle it all.

I hope that one day my daughter or son has the courage to call me when they are feeling stressed or sad. I hope that they are strong enough to admit that they cannot be strong anymore.

If you are feeling stressed, and I know that most of you are, take a breath. If you feel the need to cry, do. If you feel the need to call your parents, do.

You can do this.

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