Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a toast!: to all irrational fears

all day i have had the feeling of impending doom.

i tried to shake him by talking my way through my responsibilities--yep, all are accounted for. no missed deadlines, no incomplete assignments, no excessive debt, no missing limbs...

then his friend DREAD showed up.

that's when it got ridiculous. what do i have worth dreading? no tests on the horizon, no papers even. my students are nice, my roommates make me laugh, and i've just started a dinner group that is going to rock the socks off of allyo d-groups.

dread is the worst of all companions. worst because the fear of something bad happening is so much more traumatic than the bad thing actually happening. dread will weigh you down. "what ifs" and worries are the heaviest boots you can wear. so after unsuccessfully evading dread all day, i did what anyone would do:

i put on my favorite shirt, made myself some hazelnut cocoa, and hid under my covers.

and then i armed myself: with writing. because we all know that words are magic and can make all our secret fears and darkest dreams as swiftly melt away.

and in the writing and the cocoa i realized this: i have an irrational fear that i am going to be FOUND OUT. found out for what, i'm not entirely sure. my mind makes things up. like for instance that at the daily universe, they're going to suddenly realize that i have no idea what i'm doing, that i've just been faking it, and worst of all that i've somehow been lying on my timecard unconsciously. that my grad professors are going to see right through my polished prose to the flatness of my ideas. that all these good grades are only because they (like me) were in a hurry to finish grading papers so they could enjoy their christmas, and decided to give me the benefit of the doubt. in fact, my dreams last night were that the byu police, honor code office, and all my students came after me because i missed a punch out at work, gave my students too high of grades, and didn't get the assignment's instructions to them before their deadlines. such are my nightmares. pathetic, i know. (those of you who are in british poetry with me: i just want to make one thing very clear: while today i have felt a strange amount of unease in regards to being found out, i still have nary a trace of the anxiety which talbot has so fiercely affixed to me. whatever his self-professed psychic abilities.)

another irrational fear: i fear that i'm enjoying myself too much. my schedule this semester consists of : taking pictures for the newspaper, reading british poetry, doing yoga, and cooking. that's it. the first two weeks were blissful! ...and now it sets in: this cannibalistic complex that if i'm enjoying life this much, it must mean i am being lazy. look here:

"We cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark.

"Sometimes we feel that we must choose between spiritual and secular learning. That is a false conflict for most of us, particularly for the young. Before we have families, there is leisure time even in what is our busiest day. Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, saying, “I’m recharging my batteries.” Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture.

"It takes neither modern technology nor much money to seize the opportunity to learn in the moments we now waste. You could just have a book and paper and pencil with you. That will be enough. But you need determination to capture the leisure moments you now waste."

(Henry B. Eyring, "Real-Life Education" Ensign, Oct. 2002)

in the spirit of capturing every leisure moment, i tried to climb the following mountains last semester:

victorian literature,
teaching freshman writing,
grad studies,
conference/publishing proposals,
composition pedagogy,
and suddenly deciding i needed to become crafty.

...and then my friend billy went on conan and dedicated this to me (it would be appropriate for you to listen to this as you finish reading my evening's ramblings):

i found myself thinking : "what would it be like to not be overwhelmed all the time?" follow the next thought : "why do i feel like in order to be making the most of my life, i have to be doing some major task every second of the day?" i realized then that for the last six years, i've told myself that college life is stressful, and if you aren't stressed, you aren't doing enough. i mean--look around: we've got international films to see, dance classes to take, intermurals to play, art exhibits to go to, languages to learn, people to meet!

translation: soak in all you can now, sister.
effect: anxiety about not being able to do it all!!!
(this may relate to the anxiety i sometimes feel at tucanos when i know i'm going to be full long before i've tried everything at that salad bar.)

i don't even know what it would be like to actually be bored every once in a while. it isn't so much the amount of things to be done, but rather the effort it takes switching between so many things all the time--between deadlines and assignments, languages to learn, callings to complete, clubs to participate in, instruments to learn, parties to plan--

my favorite place to eat in my hometown of eagle idaho (read: elysian fields) is mongolian bbq. you get one bowl, and in that one bowl you pile as many vegetables, meats, noodles, and sauces as possible. in high school we used to see who could get the most in their bowl. tacky, i know. but not the point. you can play the pile-stuff-pile-stuff game at mongolian bbq because you can take home the leftovers in a little chinese box. doing that with life only amounts to sacrificing peaceful nights reading novels in bed just for fun. (..........i was also going to include sacrificing partying with friends, but let's be honest, i have not yet reached that point yet.) at any rate, the book-in-bed image symbolizes enough: all that is forfeited when i overextend myself.

here it is: my toast for the evening: i submit that there is more to life than increasing its speed! i submit that boredom (in a healthy way), quiet evenings, time to read whatever you'd like, time to sit and tell stories with people you love, time to go frolick if that's what toots your horn--all these things are important. they make mental stability. they make inner peace. they make those mornings when you wake up smiling already because everything is exactly as it should be. seriously, i am my own worst enemy sometimes.

i don't have to go to yoga tonight if i don't want to.

i don't have to apply for conferences just can wait till tomorrow.

i don't have to plan paris or london until planning such actually sounds like something i'd enjoy, not something i'm using as a weapon against myself to impose panic and fear and worry and dread and a general feeling of inadequacy. not something Messrs Dread and Doom are using to suck all the joy out of planning such lovely things.
i maybe might just read "water for elephants" all evening, in the true spirit of what president eyring said. maybe that's my lesson to learn this year--how to enjoy floating slowly down the river. how to stop paddling like a frantic lady and just smell the sagebrush for an hour, in so doing, learn the things that are worth learning.

and now, a rather large end parentheses.


make of it what you will, but whatever you make, make sure it is great. (great like using 18 :'s in one blog post. you can take THAT to the bank.)


  1. I really like Water for Elephants, and your writing. And your thoughts...

  2. I find great comfort in the fact that I am not the only one who has irrational fears, though I feel mine are much more irrational than yours (more irrational, yet yours I still find to be, in the least, equally imposing and daunting.)
    I love you.

  3. You and I are kindred spirits Carolyn- you can just put your feelings into words A LOT better than I can. For this I am very grateful :)

  4. Ok, so maybe it's a little random that I stumbled upon your blog. But I must say that it came at a fortuitous time because I needed to read this post! It is so easy to beat myself up for not wanting to stress myself out. But really? It is okay to go under the covers with hot chocolate and read for an hour instead of doing the dishes. Excuse me while I go do that. Haha.