Walking Wounded Towards Winter Term

Finals are over for the term. I was apprehensive—my health problems really derailed me and I ended up struggling to catch up, which was very disappointing; I started out ahead of the assignment schedule for the first couple weeks of term.

Still, these things happen. (Though this is the second fall term in a row where this happened, and I’m trying not to get superstitious about it.) I was lucky to have understanding teachers, and I pulled a B+ and two B- grades, which is not too bad at all—it absolutely could have been worse.

I’m looking forward to having a bit of a break, though I haven’t really been able to rest much, yet. Whenever I have free days in my calendar, they seem to mysteriously fill up.

I often say that I am quintessentially Gemini, and reading over common traits of Gemini, it really does seem to be true: energetic, imaginative, impulsive, restless, independent, creative, stubborn, scattered… I get grand ideas, and then realise that my own expectations are unrealistic. When a project stalls, I burn out spinning my wheels. I juggle more and more commitments, until it’s a constant struggle to keep all of the balls in the air, and I start dropping things.

This fed a lot into my difficulty this term: I had a lot of commitments going into the term, and I tried to maintain them all after I got sick, with varying degrees of success. And when I saw other places I could plug in, and take on even more…

Well, I’ll just say that I’m still learning to say no.

I’ve read about productivity and organisation strategies and self-care tips, and I think I may have to just start scheduling my life to the quarter hour. It’s clear that I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing, but I have a lot of trouble protecting time for self-care. I want to say yes to everything, and so I take on more than I can handle, and work time spills into personal time, and before I know it I’m completely exhausted and I can’t function for a couple of days.

I feel like a broken record, but I’m still not sure how to move forward taking care of myself better. Maybe I’ll schedule to the minute in Google Calendars, and block off personal time and have alarms to move me through my day or something. But that feels too rigid and robotic. What if I need to change things on the fly?

One of my biggest problems is the length of my commute. It takes me an hour each way to get to campus and back home, and in the mornings there’s nowhere to sit (admittedly, this is less of a problem now that I walk with a cane), and studying crammed up against another commuter is awkward and uncomfortable, and I can’t really concentrate. I don’t study well at home, so I stay late on campus, but then having to travel means I won’t get enough sleep before I have to be up and back on transit. I missed one class twice this term from staying up late to finish work and then sleeping through my alarm and right up to the start of class time. That’s not a huge deal on campus, but with an hour long commute it’s literally impossible to get to class until it’s almost over.

This term, there were a lot of times that I accepted the penalty of not getting work done in order to get enough sleep to function. I sacrificed grades to my health. And it felt painfully cruel to have to pretend I wasn’t dying inside when the non-indictments of Officers Wilson and Pantaleo came in, to go to work and class as though nothing was wrong. It hurt. It still hurts.

For many people, this has been a truly disastrous year. My friends and family have struggled with health, faced the possibility of houselessness, fought to get enough to eat, and so much more. Family loss, environmental disaster, job loss. We are open, raw, exposed. Police violence and public callousness have ground us down, and we have had to push through, pretend that our souls are not bleeding from too many wounds to count. It’s so exhausting.

Finals are past, grades are in, and I have less than three weeks to get my equilibrium back, to patch the holes enough to go on. I’m excited for the classes I picked, but I’ve considered taking a term off—or even dropping out—more than once. I’m just exhausted.

I hope I can build my reserves back up before the start of next term, because I won’t make it through another term like this. My body won’t let me, and I don’t want to.

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