One thing I’ve learned over the last year of life is how to better handle my stress.
I did this thing in undergrad where I would basically get to the end of the semester and then IMPLODE because I would ignore my stress all semester in an attempt to just power through my classes, my papers, and the typical end of the semester events.
Last year when I graduated undergrad I had booked a vacation for THE DAY AFTER GRADUATION. Yes, you read that right. I walked across the stage, celebrated with my family, and then woke up the next morning at 3am to head to the airport and fly to Riveria Maya.
While my vacation was FUN and amazing, I couldn’t help but feel like I hadn’t had the time to decompress after the semester.
My mom also does this thing where she nicely points out how stupid I am being in the sweetest way possible, and I’m pretty sure last year she said something along the lines of: “Well, now you know that booking a vacation the DAY after a huge event is not a good idea.”
So what did I do? I booked this year’s vacation for two days after my end of the semester.
But here’s the thing: my first year in grad school has taught me a lot. Not only did I learn a heck of a lot more about how to be an effective counselor, how to own my shit, and how to work with people with EDs, I learned a lot about my self.
Mostly, I learned how to deal with my stress in a more realistic way.
When I started undergrad, I developed this unspoken rule that I would not do homework on the weekends. For me, my weekends have always been this time to recharge, do some self care, and just BREATHE.
I’ve gotten WAY better at that in grad school. I try to check in with myself every week and see how I’m doing and figure out what I need. Sometimes what I need is a face mask. Sometimes what I need is a glass of wine with a friend. Sometimes I need to just cry on the phone with my mom about how stressed I am.
My self care always looks different, and I know that it will keep changing. When Logan and I were booking our trip to France (we leave in five days!!!!!!) I specifically said “I need a day in between my last day of work and leaving.”
Last night, I was on the phone with my mom and I said, “well, maybe like a week in between would have been better.”
I conveniently neglected the fact that my last week of the semester (aka a bunch of final papers due) would align with doing a LOT of laundry, running errands to make sure everything is set, packing, cleaning our apartment, and normal pre-vacation stuff.
But hey, I’m learning. Last year I left the next day, this year I’m leaving two days later. I DOUBLED the time I’m waiting for vacation after the end of my semester. Small progress, but still progress.
Another thing that ALWAAAAYS comes up for me when I travel is the idea of being flexible. I am very type-A. I like to plan, and my little anxiety monster likes to tell me that if things don’t go the way they are planned then my WHOLE TRIP IS RUINED. When I type it or say it out loud, I realize how silly it sounds.
Traveling is a good reminder of the unpredictability of life. I am never going to be able to control the boarding process on an international flight or the weather in a foreign city. My anxiety might like to think I could…but I’ll just drive myself more and more insane the more I obsess over it.
The last two weeks I’ve been checking the weather every morning for Paris just to see what’s going to happen. For a while it said rain and I had to try *really* hard to not get upset. To me, I felt like the rainy weather would mean that my trip wouldn’t be as special and that I wouldn’t have as good memories as I would if it were sunny.
(Also I will totally admit that I just paused writing and checked the weather. It’s a mix of sunny days and rainy days.)
Last year when Logan and I went to Mexico, we did an all inclusive resort. We got there early and they told us they were going to upgrade our room (whatever that means). We couldn’t check in yet so we headed to the beach and had a few drinks.
When we eventually got to our room that afternoon, we had TWO DOUBLE BEDS. This girl thought it was the end of the world. I pretty much started crying saying our trip was ruined and Logan (thank god) was like “YO relax we can ask to be switched and if not, oh well.”
They WERE able to change our room and give us something with a king sized bed, but I can look back realize that IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE END OF THE WORLD. Sure, we were cramped in the bed the one night we slept in it (it was a double), but we would have lived. We were lucky enough to be at a beautiful resort and have beautiful weather and both be celebrating that we were done with undergrad.
I’ve been preparing as our trip to France gets closer and closer for the things that will inevitably go wrong. We might miss a train somewhere. We might switch our plans for the day due to the weather. We might forget something at home. But we will still have a good time.
When I really put some though into this stuff, I realize that the point of life isn’t to have everything go perfectly smooth. That’s impossible. I think the real joy comes in the ordinary and imperfect moments. Logan and I are lucky to get a chance to go abroad and just enjoy ourselves. Maybe the most fun we have will be when something goes not as planned.
For the duration of my trip, you can catch me on instagram posting about all the good Parisian food I’m so excited to munch on again!