Ruminations on Work and Stress

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed, even when you have plenty of time to do everything that you need to do?

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed, even when you have plenty of time to do everything that you want to do?

I am currently feeling overwhelmed, even though I have plenty of time to do everything I need and want to do.

Maybe this blog isn’t the right place to post about something like this. Whatever. I’m not here to complain; I’m here to see if I can find an answer to why I feel this way. It’s influencing my approach to writing, too, so that’s why I’m plopping all of this here.

Here’s what I’ve got going on:

I had my first grad school audition on Friday, here at Michigan. I wasn’t terribly nervous because it was for my current professor and the doctoral students that I have already played for/with for the last 3-4 years.

Earlier last week, though, I began to have a lot of issues with my playing. I began to regain many of the tension patterns that I worked very hard to eliminate during my freshman and sophomore years. I began to practice too often and my facial muscles actually began feeling sore during my daily activities outside of music. I had never experienced this to the degree that it was happening.

I also juggled three different performing ensembles and running a fraternity as President.

I basically got so stressed out about my abilities and about my chances of making it into the grad programs that I am auditioning for over the next few weeks that I overworked myself. I’m sure you all know the feeling quite well. It’s easy, as college students, to want to max out on everything when we have something to prove.

Add to these musical/physical woes an extensive amount of deep thinking and writing in Writing 420, and you’ve got a recipe for mental disaster. It was everything I could do to keep myself focused. The only things I looked forward to were drinking with my friends and eating absurd amounts of food.

Over the last couple of weeks, as this stress and over-thinking began to set in, I began to also dread sitting down to write anything. I finished the book I had begun before winter break ended as quickly as I could so that I wouldn’t have to read (even though it was voluntary reading). I stopped writing poems on a regular basis. I stopped enjoying playing video games as much, and got increasingly angrier when I didn’t have good matches on Star Wars: Battlefront or Call of Duty: Black Ops III. I even stopped enjoying listening to music.

I suppose that what I’m getting at is that stress is bad, and it can creep up on anyone unexpectedly. I didn’t even realize that what I was feeling was stress.

So, over this past weekend, I took an entire to not practice or write or anything. I played video games, I went to Sam’s Club and bought a bunch of coffee, and I sat around ― a lot. I ate a lot of food and drank a lot of beer at Buffalo Wild Wings.

And today I feel better than I have all month. All it takes sometimes is the realization of the fact that one can’t fix everything in a day. Working on writing projects and practicing music are gradual processes, and I have to remind myself that I am not bad at either one.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my rant if you made it this far. Remember: be happy! 🙂

― Evan

One thought to “Ruminations on Work and Stress”

  1. Evan,

    A couple of thoughts that cropped up while reading through this: (1) I see nothing wrong with venting on the Minor in Writing blog – we’re all a little in over our heads most days, and (2) I feel sorry that you’ve become stressed and relieved that this weekend was helpful for you in relaxing!

    Even though you mentioned that you have enough time for the things in your life and that you weren’t terribly nervous for your first grad school audition (Congrats, by the way! My mediocre, horn-playing self is excited and impressed.), it seems like there are some underlying fears that are coming up with the end of the undergrad chapter of life. Instead of identifying those feelings just as “I’m stressed”, would it help at all to identify specifically what you’re feeling (ex. “afraid of x”, “anxious because y”)? People deal with stress and emotions differently, so that might just result in ruminating about it all. If that’s your tendency (which is pretty normal), totally disregard what I just said.

    Regardless, I’m happy you took time for yourself to rest this weekend. As the semester goes on, make sure you take time – whether it be an afternoon or a whole Saturday – to keep doing that! Whatever you’ve got going on, it’s not more important than your mental health.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your capstone project in the future and what all happens with grad school! Have you had your senior recital yet, or is that planned for this semester?

    Keep it up, and keep resting!

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