The reality is that there exists a competition for who can stress the most.
For the first time yesterday, I had an unfortunate encounter with a couple who I had not seen for well over a decade. They immediately began the belittling process; intentions were so vile that their photo could no doubt qualify for the “history” subsection of a Wikipedia entry on the Evil-Eye talisman.
This was an out of body experience and all I could do was stare wide-eyed and remain silent before courteous byes were exchanged.
I continued my walk in a stupor. I could have easily trekked the way from my relatively sleepy borderline Long Island village to the Ivy-covered gates on the Upper West Side of Manhattan then and there.
How many hours a day do you stress?
If only we could quantify the shortness of breath, the number of capillaries making there way to the forefront of otherwise white eyes, and the frequency with which we have to calculate the hours between Tylenol ingestion.
I walked into Zara, a shop I do not care for, some months ago. A clutch managed to stand out. It was a large rectangular leather pouch in a pure white, a color that I have never particularly favored.
My dislike of this color beckons memories of me trying in earnest to draw attention to my black bottoms on elementary school assembly days: I remember sporting my favorite Bloomingdale’s voluminous pleated knee-length skirt that had layers of netting - a statement piece if there ever were one, just so that my white blouse would go unnoticed.
The overpriced clutch had engraved into it the past tense verb or adjective: “STRESSED,” all in caps lock.
My mother, who was with me that day, immediately vocalized the need for me to purchase the “quirky” clutch. It was a perfect match.
Suddenly its pure white color began to make sense: stress and I are like a married couple but as a half-Indian, full Sikh, the color also symbolized how stress could just as easily be the cause of my demise.
Sleepless nights having become all the more common and retail always a common stomping ground for the walking New Yorker, I ventured out to find a means for reducing stress.
Aromatherapy that includes pillow mists, lotion, and face wash, stress balls, similar to the likes sent to me by a graduate school I had applied to as a thank you for submitting an application, and other slightly disturbing paraphernalia that includes the “Keep Calm And [Insert Your Desired Verb + Object clause here]. are part of the stress-management inventory.
The spray was too overpriced, not to mention the fact that it smelled like Vicks vapor rub which causes me to suffer from headaches.
The balls are prone to collecting dust, nondescript bacteria, and when squeezed, its sole purpose by the way, more times than not falls victim to far too long nails left unkempt and uncut due to lack of recreational time. The result is the ball’s Styrofoam-like material collecting underneath my nails, further weakening their already un-animated quality.
Eating certain "comfort foods” could also be a stress-reliever.
Regardless, I am now at the end of my second week in graduate school and I am finally trying to heed the advice my brother had passed unto me a while back and that alumni had passed during orientation: Do not think of the competition. Ignore it. In fact, there is no competition. Worry about yourself, the work you produce and the feedback that you receive from your professors.
Now, I am still stressed, however, this stress seems to be healthier to me. It is more organic and more conducive to producing a valid outcome.
Come at me peers - or don’t - I could care less.
I’m impressed at how much I’ve stressed; how much I have stressed about myself.