Tag Archives: stress

Midterm Musings

I accidentally gave up coffee again. I really didn’t mean to, but here a week has gone by and I haven’t had a drop. I used to drink at least three cups a day. There is something comforting in the thought that I can fall out of my bad habits quite as easily as my good ones.

The problem started with midterms. I had my first ever law school exam on Monday. The Thursday before, I started throwing up and blamed a 24 hour bug. By Saturday, I acknowledged that it was probably nerves (and possibly coffee withdrawal.) I remained nauseous through Tuesday morning.

I have never been someone with test anxiety so it is rather embarrassing to experience it now. I find it perfectly understandable that someone else might be nervous, but me? The thought takes me down a peg.

Or six.

So goes law school. I want to blog more but attending law school is a lot like walking fast up a steep hill in high heels. I know I am getting somewhere, and I will have great calves when I get there, but in the moment I am afraid that if I try and talk about it, all you will hear are my gasps and sobs. 

My brain knows that this all part of a bigger process, but I am not sure my heart does yet. I am broken down to be built up. I will eventually reach the top of the hill and it will be worth it. However, here in the weeds, it is easy to forget that. Emotionally I feel drained. My habits, good and bad, are erratic and the thought of quitting crosses my mind at least once a day. I feel socially isolated and academically unmotivated. The future seems dim and uncertain. I have always been the girl with a goal, now my goals shift and flutter and fall apart. 

Everyone tells me that I am normal, that this is just the way law school is. Sometimes that knowledge helps, sometimes not. After all, I did not come here to be everyone else. Yet, at the same time, it is comforting. The faculty and staff here get it. They went through this. The 2 and 3Ls may smirk knowingly, but at the end of the day, they survived. I will too. 

Amidst my  angst and uncertainty, there still remains an unshakable confidence. I like being here. I am happy. I am challenged. I don’t want to quit (usually.) The law is fun and I am learning interesting things. This is a world I enjoy being part of. I like the fast-paced learning style and the substantial amount of stuff I know now that I did not know two months ago. I can see my progress quite easily.

The disconnect comes when I turn around and try to see my future. People at the law school always ask me what kind of law I want to practice, and then tell me that no one actually knows anyway, so if you do know, you don’t know, so don’t stress. Simple, right? If only. It is a weird mix of “don’t have a plan” but simultaneously “try everything so you can make a plan.” Oh, but also, “don’t overwhelm yourself.” Yet while not overwhelming yourself, “MAKE SURE YOU GET GOOD GRADES.” Ahhhh, but there is a curve, so statistically, you won’t make good grades. But that is okay, because everybody gets a job eventually. (Probably.) Now go figure out what kind of law you want to practice, so that you can network in that area. But remember, don’t have a plan.  

Is it any wonder the law is full of alcoholics? 

In this mess, I got nauseous and stressed and accidentally gave up coffee. Now I think I should make a concerted effort to stay off it. The last thing I need is another stimulus. We’ll see how long this good intention lasts!  With the way life has been going, I may be downing six cups tomorrow. 

I think I will make it a little longer than that, though. 


I feel naked with only one phone…

For the first time in a very long time, I no longer have two phones, two laptops, two credit cards, and a constant feeling that I’m ignoring something I should be doing for work. It is a strangely empty feeling. It isn’t like having a phantom limb as much as feeling like there is a large, empty space somewhere inside me where tension used to be. My responsibility is now gone. 

I know this is a temporary feeling and I’ll be back to work in three days, but it still surprises me. Of all the emotions I imagined, “emptiness” was not one of them. I think I might get sick. I’ve been fighting a sore throat this morning. The tension and emotions of the past few weeks have finally knocked me down and now I just want to sleep and avoid people. However, I can’t do that because there are only 3 days till I leave for the summer and people want to see me. I didn’t plan this very well! 

Oh well, enough of my whining. I’m going to take advantage of introvert time while I can and hopefully it will be enough to get me through the next few days!

Left turns

Sometimes, you don’t realize how much something stresses you out until that thing is removed. Other times, you feel every moment of stress and are still amazed by how relaxing it is to not have the stresser. The latter would be me and my left blinker. 

The bulb went out. Suddenly, every left turn became a nightmare. What if I got in an accident? Or pulled over? Or worse yet, mistaken for some jerk who doesn’t use a blinker? I drove for a few days in a state of perpetual stress. 

Last night, my awesome Dad fixed it for me and suddenly driving is much less stressful. I want to make left turns, just to prove I can do it safely! Hurray for blinkers! And less stress! And safe driving!

Proverbs 16:9

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

I read this verse during my devotion this morning and the words have been at the back of my mind all day. First, I think this would be a great graduation verse, way better than Jeremiah 29:11. 

Second, though, I have been thinking about how hard it is to acknowledge that in the end, God determines the steps I take. I don’t mean in the big things. It is comforting to look back on my big life decisions and see how God was at work. What is hard to hand over is the little things.

Today was a big day for me. I was hosting an open house event for my office and I really wanted it to go well. With this verse in mind, I told myself it was okay to relax. Whether I succeeded or not, God was in control. Almost, I allowed this realization to calm me.

However, there was another voice that refused to calm down. Handing everything over to God was too much like giving up. I told myself I needed a stronger internal locus of control, not something to pass decisions off on. I needed the extra stress, I reasoned, to keep me sharp. I want to be stronger, grittier. Which wasn’t necessary bad. 

The problem is when I begin to draw a false line between ‘handing my stress over to God’ and ‘being responsible.’ They naturally flow together. Letting go does not mean behaving irresponsibly. If anything, it reminds me where my priorities should be. I just wish it didn’t feel like such a hard balance to learn sometimes! 

The Color of a Balloon

“Elijah, I don’t know what to doooooo,” I wailed. “I didn’t want to go with blue and white balloons so I got blue and green. I am afraid they are going to be ugly. Do you think they will be ugly? I’m afraid they will be. I should have gone with blue and red. But I didn’t want it to be awkwardly patriotic. But I should have done it. What was I thinking? I got blue and green. What if they are HIDEOUS together? What am I going to do? BLUE AND GREEN WAS A HORRIBLE IDEA. What do you think? They are going to look horrible together.”

After a few non-committal shrugs, my sensible youngest brother finally replied, “If they don’t look good together, just separate them.”   

Sometimes, a sensible word is all it takes. Immediately, I calmed down. The problem wasn’t insurmountable, it was barely an issue. However, I was so freaked out by a million little details that I couldn’t see a solution. 

Today was very long and full of details; I hate details. I am a big picture person and I don’t really care if the balloons are blue or green or even white. Yet I think I ought to care and I worry that I have made the wrong decision and it becomes a big, insurmountable Issue. 

Thankfully, my family members know when I’m getting lost in the details. I am grateful for them and all the other sensible people in my life. They provide strength, wisdom, and the occasional epiphany for when I lose sight of the event because I am so focused on the colors. 


No Coffee :(

It has been roughly a week since I gave up coffee. I didn’t think I would make it this long without it. Actually, I have surprised myself with how little I miss coffee. My substitute, a pot of tea, has enough  caffeine to prevent caffeine headaches and fits (if not prolongs) my morning routine. 

Really, up until today, I felt nothing but upbeat about this experiment. I cut coffee because I noticed that even with only one cup a day, I couldn’t hold my hands steady. They shook. Now they don’t. 

However, today I really, really want coffee. Partially because I am sleepy. I stayed up way too late last night to finish a super addicting book. My tired brain has been trained that when tired, drink coffee. It focuses me. 

The second reason I noticed I want coffee is because today is busy and I am nervous about tonight. It is the first training event in my office and I am in pins and needles that something will go wrong. Coffee is a warm, delicious drink that gives me something to focus on when I am nervous. Of course, it also speeds up my heart rate and probably causes more stress than it prevents…but the familiar, bitter taste is still reassuring. 

I am determined not to drink coffee. It has become a comfort object, like a blanket, and that isn’t great for my health. Physical withdrawal hasn’t been a problem. However, mental withdrawal is really hitting me today!