The Impending Storm
I sigh, a prolonged, overwhelmed exhale of emotion. I am staring at the crowded, jumbled dry erase calendar on the left wall in my bedroom. Red, violent, feverish streaks catch my exhausted, energy-drained eyes: “START COMMON APP ESSAY INTRO!!!”, “FINALIZE YOUR COLLEGE LIST”, and “WORK ON ACTIVITIES SECTION” are scribbled in capital, bold, overpowering letters. I squeeze my eyes shut and have short day-nightmares about the brewing storm…. “I can barely decide what I want to wear each morning and now I’m supposed to decide the fate of my next 4-year-chunk of life and possibly the career path I want to pursue till retirement!?” I internally scream. There is so much maturing to do, so much self-discovering work to be done in these next four months, that I just feel like smushing my face against my pink, shaggy carpet and staying there, in that hiding position, forever. I know that I should confront my problems before they expand, but running away from them just seems so much easier and more alluring. I don’t want to think about college (although I am forced to because it is literally the main subject of every conversation I will have my first semester senior year) and the concomitant stress, self-defeating thoughts, and anxiety that cloud over me. I wish the calm before the storm, the summer and endless, free, idle warm days, could remain an everlasting, forever burning flame. But here I am, uneasily preparing for the first day of school as I watch the beautiful sun of summer die down below the horizon. I have just seen the first, terrifying bolt of lightning illuminate the dark, eerie sky….that can only mean one thing: the growling, impending thunder of senior year and college apps is ready to be unleashed, and all hell will soon break loose.
Especially for someone trying to maintain recovery, it is imperative to not let stress debilitate you and interfere with your normal, everyday functioning. In the past, even seeing a storm predicted in a distant forecast would have unwinded me, leading me to lose sight of what’s most important in life—health, happiness, and self-love. When even one grey, storm cloud came in sight, my progress in recovery would be seriously at stake. Instead of looking at the bright side, I would get in my head, thinking of every worst potential disaster. My mental health would spiral, and I would use my disquietude as an excuse to abuse my innocent body. This time, I will not let that happen. Recovery has given me the tools necessary to weather this destabilizing storm. Most of all, it has provided me with perspective and clarity. I have learned to become more optimistic, to not automatically assume that the worst will transform into reality. And even if I find myself disappointed and discouraged, there are things much worse in life (i.e. the chilling grip of anorexia) than being rejected from my dream school. As hard as it is, I would understand that this rejection is not personal….it does not speak to my character, to my heart, to my fortitude. It would not make me less worthy than those who were accepted. In fact, it should be the college who is mourning: they are the one’s who have made the mistake of letting such a bright, unique, and potential-packed prospective student slip away.
Of course, I still really with all my heart want to get into my top choice and will be crushed for a time if I don’t. Of course, I am still completely and utterly terrified of the process and inevitable rough patches to come. Of course, the coming days will hold tears rooted from pressure, emotional drainage, and a hefty workload that will leave even the most motivated feeling disheartened. But, it is the tough times that show us who we truly are and what we are truly capable of. It is through tough times where we can inspire ourselves by doing what we thought seemed impossible—persevering and fighting ceaselessly. Plus, hardships can connect us to others and show us that we have shoulders to lean on. For example, I know I’m not alone in these fears, these burdens, these internal gales. I know I’m not alone, because my friends express these same concerns. That comforts me….maybe that can comfort you too? To know that we are all in the same boat, trying to navigate the same, rough waters, hoping that a relentless wave doesn’t sink our ship? To know that we are intertwined in our fears and, if we show mutual support, can be intertwined in our triumphs too? Together, we can survive and thrive in the midst of the storm, looking onward towards brighter, fun-filled second semester (; days. Together, we will prevail.