Oh Graduation, how do thee freak me out? Let me count the ways:
This has been an interesting seven days. The good news is, I’m still alive after the first week of classes. The bad news? I had two semi-legitimate-but-mostly-just-me-being-dramatic panic attacks. Why? Let me start at the beginning.
Classes started on Tuesday this semester, since Monday was an extension of winter break in observance of MLK day. I went to my first class, play writing, and was extremely excited to finally see my mentor-professor in action in the classroom. The class itself was also very enjoyable, despite only being syllabus day. To put it simply, my expectations were pretty high after that first class. However, I was still mostly in winter break mode, as I promptly went home and watched four episodes of Parks and Recreation before heading back out into the cold for my second class.
As a creative writing major, I am exempted from one of the six core classes required by KU in order to get my B.A. in English in exchange for taking a butt-load of creative writing courses. The incessant over-achiever in me had, however, decided that taking that sixth course–in this case, Shakespeare–would be a good idea, not because I wanted the enrichment the course would give me, but because then I could say that I graduated within both the creative writing and English literature tracks of the major. Such an honest motive, such a terrible decision.
To be perfectly honest, Shakespeare at KU does not have the best reputation. Most of the regular professors who teach the class on rotation get mild reviews from students, perhaps leaning slightly more towards the negative side of things. Lots of “drones on and on in lectures,” “gets easily sidetracked,” and “easy grader, difficult assignments,” etc. (Let me reiterate: these are the reviews for many, but not all, of the professors who teach this class on a rotational basis). And to be fair, Shakespeare is probably not an easy course to teach, let alone learn. Still, I knew going into the class that it was not going to be my favorite. However, what I was not expecting was the syllabus I was handed that first day. I think the second I read the course assignments section I began to hyperventilate a wee bit. The class required reading twelve plays (that much I knew ahead of time; all the Shakespeare courses required that intense reading schedule) but it also included a midterm exam (granted, the exam was a take-home test), a final exam, and two 2,500-3,000 word essays (which I later confirmed with my roommate is roughly 8-10 pages double-spaced). Now, obviously none of this is insanely strenuous, and I have done all of these–taken midterms and final exams, written papers (some of them twice as long as these word requirements)–I’ve even done a combination of test-taking and paper-writing. However, I’ve never taken on two lengthy essays in combination with two cumulative tests and this much reading, on top of three other course workloads and job searching/post-grad planning as well.
I believe my exact inner-monologue went a little something like this: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Needless to say, I high-tailed it out of that class as fast as I could, spending the next 36 hours in pure anxiety, trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do before finally getting permission to switch into a nonfiction writing class, something that, in the long run, has way more writing involved, but is a bit more my style, as far was work requirements go.
But shortly thereafter, I began to panic again, wondering if maybe I needed to take that Shakespeare class. Or worse yet, what if I had somehow overlooked something, and wouldn’t be able to graduate this semester? Clearly, my anxiety is well-rooted in the illogical. A quality of my character that I am sure my adviser finds endearing and not at all overbearing.
These two incidents are actually related, in retrospect, but that hasn’t stopped me from feeling completely excessive about both.
I posted a Facebook status about my feelings of anxiety towards this latter half, actually. That’s how I can tell the emotions are getting the best of me. When I publicize myself, I am usually looking for fast-assurance and comfort when I can find none for myself, usually in the most dramatically-worded way I can come up with. In this case, I described the feeling as though I was forgetting to pack something for a very long trip, even though I had been over the list again and again and could not remember what it was I thought I had forgotten. Thankfully, I am friends with my adviser on Facebook, and as soon as she saw my status she recognized my call for help and double-checked for me, clarifying on my account which emphasis I was under, so that my course requirements will show up correctly for my transcripts and graduation.
So now I am reduced to simply being anxious. Not about anything in particular, but just in general. Perhaps as the weeks progress and I begin to function more consistently within a schedule again this feeling will go away. Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps entering the real world means a certain level of anxiety all of the time. However, I’ve always been a bit anxious. You’d think after so many years, it would start to dull itself and become less of an issue, but I suppose that isn’t the way things work when it comes to worry. I feel that, in that way, life is a bit like being Winnie the Pooh–always a little concerned, but always searching for the bright side as well.
Perhaps, in life, we are all Pooh bears.
Here’s to hoping “It’ll be fine,” as my dear adviser would say.
Until next Monday,