The last little while

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I survived third year!

'Survived' isn't a hyperbole. This year was nothing like I'd expected it to be. It came on the heels of my very best summer ever—a summer full of adventures, fellowship, and memories—and I expected third year to include more of the same. But in August, I started getting a persistent low fever that made me feel like I'd been run over by a bus. I've had it on and off ever since, so I feel as though I'm perpetually on the brink of having the flu. I also get nauseous on a regular basis (ginger has become my best friend. I just chop it up and eat it raw [yum?]. It really works... or else, it's a darn good placebo). And to top it off, last semester, I caught a cold or flu every fortnight or so. I think it worked out to my advantage though, because after a few months, I built up immunity and managed to get through February and March without so much as a sniffle... this is a rare and wonderful victory for me!

The miserable-ness could have been manageable if, well, I had managed it well. Unfortunately, I decided that, if I couldn't control my health, I'd compensate by throwing myself head-first into obsessive, perfectionist workaholism. Now, there's nothing wrong with going the extra mile with schoolwork instead of coasting by on the least amount of effort possible. But there's definitely something wrong with overworking yourself to the point where you don't see friends for months, start dissolving into tears every couple of days, miss church for weeks at a time, and so on. The thing is, it became hard to control. I could never predict when my immune system would next give up on me, so my mantra was, "Work yourself to death while you can."

And I've spent a lot of this year feeling dead. Dead tired, brain-dead, spiritually dead. My mom and I call it "feeling like a squeezed lemon" (it sounds better in Ukrainian) because my mom adores lemon juice and she squeezes every last drop out of a lemon each time she makes breakfast, lunch, or dinner. She really gets her money's worth out of those lemons. And if you go by grades, I got my money's worth out of this year. But I'm also physically and emotionally spent. Sometimes I'm too exhausted to think, and anxiety eats up all of the remaining drops of energy that burnout leaves behind. It's not a fun place to be.

Third year ended up being nothing like what I'd imagined, but it was also well-needed wake-up call. For one thing, I learned to say "no"—admittedly, I often said it to important things, but at least sheer exhaustion forced me to accept the fact that I couldn't do everything. Second semester, I managed to dial down my self-pressure a bit, especially towards the end—miraculously, this last round of exams was actually the most relaxing part of the year for me. I also realized that I needed to prioritize my life better and learn to live with weakness and uncertainty. And most importantly, I realized just how quickly the little seeds of worry and pressure in my life could balloon into something way too big for me to control.

I think I'll be writing more about burnout and anxiety over the next couple of months because I need to sort things out in my head... I want to be more levelheaded when the next stressful patch of life hits. I'm going to make a valiant attempt to blog regularly this summer, because writing helps me figure things out, and I've been realizing that I won't be able to deal with issues which I'm unwilling to bring out into the open.

So all of this was a fancy way of saying, excuse my absence; I had good reasons for it, which now also happen to be good reasons for blog posts. But first, I'll enjoy one last day off before summer classes start. So far, I've celebrated by seeing The Artist with my dad, pinning a bunch of lovely and inspiring things to Pinterest, ordering myself a Sketchbook Project sketchbook, ordering Wicked tickets (fifth-row seats, guys!), sleeping in, watching lots of Arthur, taking a few walks, and writing four good lines of poetry. Okay, so maybe I need some lessons on how to celebrate… but after third year, just about anything feels celebratory. :)

If you're in school, how was your year? If you're not in school, how has life been?

P.S. Music lovers! Something completely unrelated to this post, but thoroughly lovely: do check out these stunning free instrumentals by Ólafur Arnalds. If I had discovered them earlier this year, I might have stayed a little saner.

1 comments:

Vanessa Strickland said...

So...random commenter here, but I like it when people comment on my blog so I'm going to respond likewise.
You were recommended to me by Twitter. :) So I clicked on your profile to see who you were.
I saw you had a blog.
So I clicked on that.
And boom. I love the way you write and your pictures are stunning!
I'll be following you and your journeys...wherever they may take you.
Keep up the great blogging. :)


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I'm Oksana—Communication major, shutterbug, occasional blogger, incessant doodler, graphic design geek, and writer of sentimental prose. I am quite content to spend an afternoon with a pencil, a few blank Moleskine pages, and a playlist of indie folk. I love musical theatre, black-&-white movies, and Eastern European illustration. Conversations with strangers make my day. When it rains, I make a beeline for my mug of green tea and stack of 19th-century fiction. I'm vegetarian about 98% of the time. I'm extremely awkward and rather nerdy. I love the sea. My name means 'hosanna' and I'm having the time of my life living to praise the One who set me free.

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