Stress is something that I’m chronically filled with at all times. Whether it’s because of the two months of notes carried over from last semester that I need to catch up on, or my bad time management skills, or the strange sound the heater makes, or worrying that I lost my keys, or thinking about what’s two weeks ahead, or ruminating about the past, there's always something for me to be stressed about.
It’s easy to see stress as a burden that needs to be defeated. So many people try to prescribe eloquent self-help techniques: Drink water! Write in a planner! Clean your desk, and take a nap!
But that will never, ever work. Relying on corny health platitudes does nothing for the soul because ultimately, seeing stress as a you-focalized issue that can be conquered by a glass of water will never get you anywhere.
Instead, I’ve learned to see that there's a camaraderie in stress, and sometimes the best way to deal with it all is to revel in it for a bit, via the beautiful, powerful love of friendship and wild distraction.
Starting on a basic level, as I stop myself from crumbling over the demands of work, my lovely co-worker, associate copy editor Chloe Tai, and I are able to come together through the commonality of our stress.
She told me that for her, if you think you have better things to do with your time, then you’re probably right. Why torture yourself solely with your responsibilities when you can branch out and seek relief from movies, dancing, adventuring out onto rooftops and clubbing in Hong Kong?
And while she wasn’t even able to relax over winter break, the snowfall before Christmas was a sign that, “Finally, the world did something right.”
I take this sort of thing very much to heart, too.
I remember all the times I took the bus for no reason and met all sorts of characters: an artist wearing mustard-colored pants who told me about her excitement for class (who I connected with half a year later on Instagram when she randomly popped up in my suggested people to follow), a man who announced how he used to speed at 120 mph on the parkway but values his life now and the random girls who invited me to get pizza with them when the weekend bus just decided not to go to the Livingston campus.
Another time I ditched studying for my differential equations midterm to go to a Gatsby Gala at the Zimmerli Art Museum and ended up acquainting myself with a mentalist who called my friend and me his "favorite group" that he had encountered that evening.
This all fulfilled a tarot card reading I received that fall when needing a break from a busy week of homework and classes — getting the card of the Magician, to be the master of my own creation, for my future.
I’ve spent plenty of time gossiping in bathrooms after long days, standing by the sinks lost in conversation for 3 hours, talking about canoe rides and middle school phases, recollecting small parties with friends, staying up all night to discuss connections and all the work we have to do, as the snow flurries outside, accompanied by the melody of wind chimes and someone singing across the street.
Between the late-night runs for food, tea times with friends, working on calligraphy in the basement of my building, everyone running around in the hallways and smoking in flower beds, there is so much to learn and fall in love with.
Self-love doesn’t come from regimented self-help tips or a guide to meditation. Sometimes it comes from stress and frustration and all of these insane, magical moments.
Holidays like Valentine's Day perpetuate this idea that we have to be in a relationship to get all of the answers, resolve our problems and ease our stresses when, in reality, the real magic in life comes from the details, if we choose to look for them.
For me, every day is a day to celebrate love, and since when does love always have to be synonymous with connecting to a significant other?
I’ve come to realize that I see everyone in my life as a dynamic character, and thus, I'm totally enamored with all of them. Not in a way of romance, but in appreciation for everything they've been. Every moment in my life has the potential to be a story because I've chosen to take the perspective of finding the infinite meaning in everything.
I've loved and found the truth in so many people because I care to, and even if these moments are not permanent, their fleeting beauty lends a sort of paradise that I very much live in.
And isn’t that what love is all about?