Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Time for My Biannual Meltdown

Every semester starts off the same: I am optimistic and energized, running along a metaphorical smooth trail along some scenic route. Around the one-month mark, the route becomes a little more challenging; there are some dips in the trail, some loose spots, but I'm more or less keeping my pace. Then around the mid-term mark, the trail becomes completely unfamiliar and I lose my footing. Where there was once rolling terrain around me, there's suddenly a rocky chasm, and I hit the bottom of it. I then feel like I spend the rest of the semester climbing my way out, sometimes waiting for a really bad storm to fill it with murky water so I can swim back to the top. I drag my way to the end of the trail, soaking wet and exhausted.

This happens every April and October, but October is worse. See, October should be my favorite time of year. I love fall--all two weeks of it. I love sweater weather and the bite in the air. I love it in theory, but in practice I am always scrambling to get on top of things and never able to enjoy it.

Then there's the fact that I work with students applying to graduate schools. This is the time that they melt down, too. What seemed like months and months to prepare has somehow vanished and they're facing chasms of their own, chasms that are dark and mysterious and hold hypothetical future lives. Their emotions aren't quite contagious, but they do something to the air.

Then there's daylight savings time--a concept concocted in Hell, I am sure. Just as October ends and I think that maybe I can make it to Thanksgiving break and catch up, it starts getting dark at 5 o'clock, speeding up the urgency of every moment.

But, I have a new sense of acceptance. See, this happens every semester. Every. Single. Semester. And I'm alive. It always works out. Sure, I'm at the bottom of a rocky abyss, but I've been here before. Yes, I have to write two papers, read three books, grade essays, plan lessons, meet students, and run meetings next week, but I've done these things before. Yes, I feel that shaky point where I can't quite remember where I put my keys, my purse, or the car. Yes, I'm nearing the time when I forget to eat breakfast and lunch. Yes, I can see phantom piles of laundry and dishes and groceries in need of cooking hovering around to remind me of their coming onslaught. But it will be okay.

If it's time for your biannual meltdown, I have hope for you, too.

Photo Credit: AlHikes_AZ

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