When you look back on past experiences the situations that you once considered to be the worst and most stressful situations are probably the same situations that you wouldn’t mind doing all over again
The first time I experienced real anxiety and stress I was a freshman in high school. I had a huge project and I thought I would never ever get past this part of my life. I had done projects dozens of times but not in this capacity. School had never seemed so incredibly impossible and I never imagined in my whole 14 years of life that anything would ever make me feel so overwhelmed. The project was called the “Travel Project”. Basically, you had to choose a country, do a lot of research about the country, and turn your very detailed project in in a binder. You had to find out how much it would cost to travel to the country, how much it would cost to stay in the country, what you would eat, what sites you would see, and journal for the whole time you were supposed to be there. The “Travel Project” doesn’t seem that difficult anymore, I would gladly do this again. I had to do this project back in 2001 when computers were humungous and you had to “dial-up” and wait to get an internet connection, that isn’t why the project seemed so difficult though. I chose Holland as my country and lost many weekends and many hours of sleep trying to research Holland. We didn’t have the internet my freshman year of high school but my grandparents, who lived next door, did so I would go over there and spend hours looking up things about Holland. My grandfather would continuously ask me, “Did you get it yet?” I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for so I never could tell him if I got it yet, but I eventually found out enough things about Holland and I was able to stop tying up my grandparent’s phone line. The project was hardly over though, I still had to find out how much it would cost me to stay in Holland. Luckily, I am a master of finding loop holes and I decided that in my travel project I had family friends who lived in Holland. I stayed with Millie & Bob and ate most of my meals with them too. Then, I journaled about staying with Millie & Bob so they were legitimately a part of my trip to Holland. I couldn’t figure out the best way to research Holland but I was certainly clever enough to not have to calculate how much it would cost to stay and eat in Holland….the art of finding loopholes! Eventually, I handed in the “Travel Project” and I think I got over a 100 because of some type of extra credit. I thought that project was the most difficult thing I would ever have to do–NOPE!
Throughout the duration of high school nothing else stood out as that stressful, overwhelming, or difficult but then I went to college. The first few weeks of college made me feel like I was doing the “Travel Project” all over again but after I became acclimated I didn’t feel that way for a while. In my senior year of college I had to write a HUGE research paper with my friend, I had mono, and then my computer crashed and I lost the majority of my portion of the paper. I once again felt like I was doing the “Travel Project” but after finals during the fall semester that feeling went away. It then came back halfway through the spring semester when I had that “What am I going to do with my life when college ends?” crisis. This time I felt like I was doing the “Travel Project” until July when I finally secured a full time job with my company & I got my acceptance letter to Drexel for grad school. Life was good from July until September…..
From September of 2009 until November of 2011 there was nothing stable or consistent in my life and I felt like I was doing the “Travel Project” everyday. I started grad school, planned a wedding, got married, moved, took a promotion, moved from one building to another at work and spent 60-70+ hours a week at work for a while during the transition, bought a house, began actually training and trying to race competitively again, finally completed my graduate program, and took another promotion.
Those 2 years made the “Travel Project” seem like a leisurely walk in the park. I never thought I would ever have to deal with anything stressful again–NOPE, not true. Stress is part of life and it is what you make it. In retrospect, none of these situations seem horribly stressful but as I was living them they were. In all of these situations I was overwhelmed and I felt like I would never get to the other side, but I did. If someone were to ask me if I would do the “Travel Project”, my senior paper, live through the “What am I going to do when college ends crisis?”, deal with moving and wedding plans, take promotions, go to grad school, or restart my running career all over again I would say YES. I would definitely do these things again and I would embrace them. Even though through all of those times I felt horribly overwhelmed, I don’t view them as overwhelming anymore.
Now, any time new stress arises in my life and I feel like I am doing the “Travel Project” I slow down and remember that this stress will become old stress and seem small and managable eventually–then I calm down and life is more enjoyable. I get it now–its not worth feeling like you are doing the “Travel Project” because everything passes us by eventually and we should live life to the fullest as we travel through it.