No one tells you

I think something that no one tells you when you finish school, whether it be college or university, is that although the world portrays you as full of potential and choice and opportunity, there will be a struggle and it may come close to breaking you. Yes, you made it through years of grueling school work, late nights with little (if any) sleep, and caffeine fueled classes. Yes, you studied endlessly for tests that you may have just hardly passed anyways. Yes, there were the struggles to make friends and keep friends, oh, and hopefully find a relationship though this is a whole other ball game. Yes, you’ve accomplished all of this and it amounts to a walk up to the front of the room, accepting a diploma or certificate at graduation, but this is only the beginning. No one seems to mention how truly terrifying it is to hand in those final assignments, reach for that diploma and all of a sudden have a new life.

For years we’ve been students, sure we may have worked part time jobs throughout the year, maybe even full time during the summer months while school was out, but do we really know what full time employment means? We’re so used to school and its culture that it’s a complete shock to be thrown into “adult” adult life and be told “here you go, go get that job, reach your full potential!”

Suddenly there’s a timeline. If you’ve been out of school a short time, there’s the pressure to find a job, and a good one…and fast! Then, as time passes, you get desperate to start paying off the student loans and take some job completely unrelated to this “full potential” everyone keeps throwing around. If you decide not to settle for something that you’ll most likely hate and hold out for something good, then it all comes down to time. It becomes a race to get a job before this indeterminate period of time gets determined as being “too long” and this “full potential idea” goes slowly down the drain.

How long is too long? What job are we supposed to expect to get right out of school with minimal experience? What if the experience we have from part time jobs is no longer what we wish to do and becomes irrelevant in the search?

I guess you could say that these are the questions that have been keeping me up late at night. Questions surrounding my future, both professional and personal. Ideally I’d work for myself, set my own schedule, be my own boss, and be fully accountable both to and for me. Although many people want this, I’m sure, I can’t seem to accept the fact that those same people are never able to achieve it. I can’t seem to accept that I may be one of those people who hates work every single day, doing a job that doesn’t fulfill me. It’s a terrible thought, but one that costs me hours of sleep each night as I toss and turn, trying meditation apps to calm my busy mind.

I guess the point is that no one prepares you for this. No one explains that this is what can happen, no matter how successful you may have been in school or in past employment. No one tells you how nauseating the stress can be as loans pile up and there’s no way to pay them or to get a job that will get you anywhere close to where you want to be. All we can do is search and attempt to find the path that we are meant to be on and hope that opportunity and good fortune line up in such a way that allows us to follow this path. No one tells you any of this, but maybe this is part of some twisted rite of passage that all young graduates must learn for themselves and struggle through, as a sort of ‘paying their dues’. We must continue to have hope and optimism that one day soon we will find our way, having figured it out for ourselves.

Practice what you preach, or at least make it look like you’re trying

I think sometimes people are just too hard on themselves. Why is the world so stressed these days? Because we schedule too closely, eat too quickly, text too often, and as a result, stress ourselves to oblivion. Does this make any logical sense whatsoever? No. Do we continue this sickening pattern every single day regardless? Yes.

It really makes you think. For me, I think about it a lot and it ironically makes me more stressed but that is probably because I don’t do it properly. I try to ignore my phone, but am always waiting for a call. I try to slow down, but then guilt myself about doing “nothing”. In the end what does this really get me? I think in the end I will have developed an ulcer and become a total wreck that struggles to even leave bed because I’m so crippled by stress. If you think about it this way, you’re making yourself stressed about doing nothing or more accurately “taking it easy” (well-deserved of course) to then an inevitable future demise where you will then be unable to do anything but “take it easy”. Then where will that leave you? The answer is even more stressed because you won’t have any choice but to feel guilty about not taking it easier sooner and now being forced to take it easy when you should be busy liking your work (or trying anyway), loving family life (hopefully you don’t have to try hard for this one) and being so hypnotically caught up in this wonderful thing called life that you have no time left at all for stress.

I know it’s all easier said than done. Obviously…As I’m currently sitting here beside a pile of readings that haven’t been done, feeling guilty that instead of tending to them I’m here on my computer writing, but writing is my passion, it’s what I love to do and I have to learn to feel less guilty for allowing myself that time. Do I feel guilty that I have all this work piling up as we speak? Yes. Do I know I’ll have trouble getting to sleep tonight because of worrying about having enough time tomorrow? Duh. But do I believe that that will be my reality forever? Not at all. Or at least, I really hope not. Thing is, we’re all pretty deep into the technology now and it feels like there’s no going back at this point. Since you’re reading this blog I’m going to assume that we’re all fairly tech-savvy or maybe a better term would be tech-somewhat-capable people and most of us turn to our devices for just about everything. You do realize that there’s this thing called the library that has real books about Celiac Disease and all that jazz, right? Just kidding, those books are dirty and other people have touched them and us blog-appreciating people don’t need none of those germs now do we? Too cool for school over here! But seriously, we all just need to put thought into what we’re doing and how we do it. I won’t use the term “mindful” because I know that is frowned upon in the world-wide community (more or less of course) but we really do need to be thoughtful (is that a better word?) of how we plan our days and what they really consist of. Let me ask you this: When you’re lying on your death bed however many years from now, will you wish you had spent more time at the office or at lunch with that friend that you pretty much hate but go out with because she’s “really not that bad” or you’re “not really in a position to be losing any friends at the moment” you “really don’t need the drama”? Chances are you’re going to regret not spending enough time with the people who truly enrich your life and who made you feel at peace under all the stress. You may even miss your alone time. True extroverts probably won’t understand that one but for people who enjoy the solitary way of life, I got you.

Moral of the story is that there is so much hope, even under all the stress, we just need to allow ourselves the time to find it. We need time to accept that we can’t do everything at once (we shouldn’t have to by the way!) and that life is about so much more than scheduling. Our health is depending on it and our bodies need us to listen and understand that.

How is this related to Celiac Disease, you ask? Truth is, it relates quite strongly actually. Yes, I may have gotten carried away with analogies but hey, you’re still reading to this point right? Caught ya. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder and although everyone can experience their symptoms differently, many people (myself included) find fatigue to be a huge problem. On top of my busy days and the stress, I feel even more stressed because I’m so fatigued and take even more time completing tasks than most people. Thing is, I know that I don’t HAVE to feel this way but I am ALLOWING myself to feel this way. People who suffer from fatigue, pain, whatever lovely symptoms you may have from celiac disease (or any illness for that matter) need to put less pressure on themselves. We all need to remember that yes it may sound cliché but, we ARE only human. Sorry to tell you folks, but it’s true. We aren’t some crazy robots designed to work 3000 hours a day. If you’re anything like me you have trouble accepting that and yes, you have to be tough to have an illness like Celiac Disease, but let’s settle for tough shall we? No need for “robotic” to become a desirable personality trait now.

I know they say practice what you preach and yes, I try. No, I’m not perfect or even remotely good at it yet but I figure that at least understanding the theory of it is a good start right? Who knows, I mean, you wouldn’t want your doctors or engineers to have that kind of philosophy but I admit to being a work in progress. A hard working person with celiac disease that forces me to work just that much harder. So from now on I will attempt to master not only the theory, but the method as well. Maybe someday I will be one of those zen people for whom nothing phases them and they just walk around like cool cucumbers all chill and shit. Wishful thinking, that will never be me, but I can only try my best. I hope some of you will try it with me. Remember, Celiac disease can be hard on our bodies and minds, we don’t need stress added to the equation only making it that much harder.