Are we out of the woods yet? Better yet do we want to get out? Life is like a forest, in fact my tumblr blog description states outright my desire to navigate the twists and turns of life. And yes, before we go any further the title of this post was inspired by a TSwift song. I happen to enjoy Taylor Swift’s music and if you have a problem with that I respect your opinion but that doesn’t change how I feel about my music choices. I also immerse myself in the melodies of Vivaldi, the guitar solos of All Time Low, and the bagpipe infused wonder that is the Dropkick Murphys – none of that makes me a shallow person, it simply means picking a favourite song is a nightmare.
All of that aside I’ve been spending quite a lot of my time recently thinking about life – which is completely uncharacteristic of me I know, but bear with me. *It’s too bad that sarcasm doesn’t always come across in written publications so, for those that missed it I was being extraordinarily sarcastic back there. My life is basically one huge existential crisis, at least it seems that way sometimes.*
Currently, we’re in the midst of the Pre-Reading Week/Fall Break rush; everything is happening at once. Honestly, there’s never enough time for everything. It’s true. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do it all and that causes stress, suffering, emotional overloads, and a heck ton of other things that I just do not want to deal with, ever.
It’s not that in essence stress is bad, it’s nature is actually neutral until we attach a connotation to it. The problem is with the stress epidemic that appears to have been sweeping across our planet for years upon end. Stress has become a badge of honour. It is seen as almost mandatory. From personal experience I can say that people will perceive a lack of visible stress as a sign of apathy while others will assume that a stressed person is unable to be relied upon.
I often find myself walking the tightrope of stress – on one end mental health always comes first, and though it’s a difficult lesson to learn I have become better about getting more sleep and not overloading my life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel stressed and pushed past my breaking point though, I still do. My problem is that stress is still seen as a weakness while it can simultaneously contribute to a good work ethic under certain circumstances.
Being stressed can motivate you but it can also break you down.
I think we’re all trapped in the woods of expectation – and the sad part is we really don’t want to leave. We don’t want to get out of the woods yet because we’re comfortable where we are right now. We’re okay with people being shamed for their lifestyles – for wanting and trying to have it all. There is nothing wrong with people who load up their schedules because they need to be busy to stay sane, just like there’s nothing wrong with someone who stays on the sidelines because they don’t want to be over involved.
Having it all to me means many things – it means that I have a good relationship with my parents, that I have friends upon whom I can rely if needed and vice versa, that I’m attending a good school, and that I am taking advantage of my opportunities. I fulfill those requirements by being a freelance writer for different websites, by talking with my parents after a long day at school, by studying, by reading, by listening in lectures, and by being present for my friends. I may not always have perfect hair or have all of my readings done but I do have it all.
I may sometimes decide to turn in early instead of staying up to edit a paper because I know in my heart that I’ll be more useful after a good night’s sleep. I will not go out to all the parties because honestly, after a week surrounded by people I occasionally just want to stay home and watch TLC with my mom.
I’m beginning to think of life as a forest of
compromises choiceswell, life.
It’s different for everyone. If a tree falls in my forest I hear it because my phone will ring or my Facebook will update. I’m tuned in to my world but not plugged in. I hear the frequency and live in the present as much as possible, but sometimes I just need to disconnect. I need to step away into another part of my forest, of our forest really, life belongs to the entire world not just to me. But I do have my own clearings where I can process my thoughts, procrastinate on work, and ponder in peace.
I am stressed right now in fact. This week alone I have a midterm, a 20% quiz, and a paper due along with various club meetings and sorority events. These activities do stress me. Whether it’s a good or bad stress depends upon the day. I’ve chosen right now to retreat into my personal forest, the one within which I exist, only me.
We all have our forests – we don’t really ever want to leave them and we should never feel pressure to do so, because in the end our lives are our own. They belong to us before anyone else.
I should be reading or revising a paper but instead I’m in the Humanities discussion lounge typing out this blog post. Does that make me selfish? Maybe. But even if it does I’m not objecting to this time of contemplation, I could consider this “down time” as time well spent watering and nurturing my forest. My life benefits from this practice of reflection – it’s part of what prevents my green forest from turning into a deep, dim cave.
Unlike Plato’s allegory of The Cave I don’t need to climb up into the light, it already paints a pretty picture on the changing leaves of my life forest. While I have yet to completely “get” Plato I do understand that his life forest was constructed from the flowers philosophy, but he still had a forest.
In conclusion, are we out the woods yet? No, but I will be emerging within the next hour from my inner clearing to get some real work done.
Thank you for reading and by extension for chilling in my glade of deliberation with me; I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of my life forest.